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V ' 

95th Congress 
2d Session 









DECEMBER 7. 1978 

Printed for the use of the Committee on Governmental Affairs 

95th Congres; 
2d Session 









DECEMBER 7, 1978 

Printed for the use of the Committee on Governmental Affairs 



For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office 
Washington, D.C. 20402 

ABRAHAM KIBICOFF, Connecticut, Chairman 
HENRY M. JACKSON, Washington CHARLES H. PERCY, Illinois 


THOMAS F. EAGLETON, Missouri WILLIAM V. ROTH, Jr., Delaware 


SAM NTJNN, Georgia CHARLES McC. MATHIAS, Jr., Maryland 


JIM SASSER, Tennessee H. JOHN HEINZ III, Pennsylvania 

Richard A. Wegman, Chief Counsel and Staff Director 
Paul Hoff. Counsel 
COXSTAXCB P>. Evans. Minority Staff Director 
Elizabeth A. Preast, Chief Clerk 

Subcommittee on Energy, Nuclear Proliferation, and Federal Services 

JOHN GLENN, Ohio, Chairman 


HENRY M. JACKSON, Washington CHARLES McC. MATHIAS, Jr., Maryland 

Leonard Weiss, Staff Director 

Meg Power, Minority Counsel 

Leonard S. Spectob, Counsel 

Deborah Steinmayeu, Chief Clerk 



IttCnileb J£>ict{e& £>cxxcxie 







January 11, 1978 

Honorable Abraham Ribicoff 
Chairman, Committee on 
Governmental Affairs 
U.S. Senate 
Washington, D.C. 

Dear Chairman Ribicoff: 

I submit herewith a compendium of articles and monographs 
on nuclear proliferation which has been prepared at my 
request by the Congressional Research Service of the Library 
of Congress. This Subcommittee, as you know, has continued 
to be actively involved in nuclear proliferation matters, 
including the implementation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation 
Act of 1978, enacted into law last March, and the develop- 
ment of Administration policy in this complex and important 

This Reader provides a broad sample of material from diverse 
sources on the nuclear proliferation question. It will be 
of considerable value to members of Congress as well as the 
public wishing to obtain a detailed understanding of this 
subject. In view of the continuing attention which nuclear 
proliferation matters will receive during the 96th Congress 
and such upcoming events as the conclusion of the Inter- 
national Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation and the Review Con- 
ference on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, this Reader 
should serve as a valuable resource. 

I request and recommend, therefore , that the Reader be pub- 
lished by the Committee on Governmental Affairs, and made 
available as a public document of this Committee. 



John Glenn 

Chairman, Subcommittee on 
Energy, Nuclear Proliferation 
and Federal Services. 


Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 


Congressional Research Service 



December 7, 1978 

Hon. John Glenn 

Chairman, Subcommittee on Energy, Nuclear Proliferation 

and Federal Services, Committee on Governmental Affairs. 

Dear Chairman Glenn: 

In response to a request from the Subcommittee on Energy, Nuclear 
Proliferation and Federal Services, the Congressional Research Service 
has prepared the enclosed ret: of selected recent readings on the further 
spread or proliferation of nuclear weapons. 

The readings were compiled by Donna S. Kramer, research assistant 
to CRS Senior Specialist, Dr. Warren H. Donnelly. 

Considering the continuing congressional attention to proliferation 
required by the Nuclear Non-Prolif eration Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-242), we 
hope this compilation will provide additional insight for Member of 
Congress and their staffs, and will help improve public understanding of 
the perplexing issues involved. 


Gilbert Gude, 
Director, Congressional Research Service 


Revived concern during the last three years over the prospect 
of the further spread, or proliferation, of nuclear weapons because of ex- 
panding use of nuclear power has caused many authors to express their views 
on the subject. The following sampling of 41 articles illustrates the range 
of recent thinking by leading academicians, scientists and engineers, nation- 
al and international officials and legislators. These articles were selected 
from a search of the literature, particularly from publications such as 
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Atom , Foreign Affairs , International Security , 
and Foreign Policy . 

These articles are grouped in two categories: those that emphasize 
technical solutions and those that focus on institutional ways of breaking 
or weakening the link between nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Technical 
solutions typically include improved safeguards technology and systems, 
improved security systems and development of proliferation resistant fuel 
cycles. Institutional approaches include new or more effective governmental 
controls, and the use of international or multinational organization and 
cooperation. The sample includes, 18 articles primarily concerned with technical 
measures and 23 that focus on institutional. 

To provide some historical background the collection begins with 
two landmarks, the Baruch plan of 1946 and President Eisenhower's "Atoms 
for Peace" speech of 1953. 

Distribution of Technical and Institutional Approaches 
Consi dered in 42 Papers Included in this Report 

Author Technical Institutional 

Allday X 

Agnew X 

Baker X 

Barnaby X 

Bethe X 

Burt X 

Carter X 

Casper X 

Dahlberg X 

Dunkel X 

Dunn X 

Eklund X 

Falk X 

Feiveson X 

Fischer X 

Flowers X 

Gall X 

Glazer X 

Goldschmidt X 

Hill X 

Kissinger X 

Kratzer X 

Leventhal X 

Long X 

Mandelbaum X 

Marscham X 

Morawitz X 

Nye X 

Owen X 

Ribicoff X 

Rose X 

Rotblat X 

Smith X 

Starr X 

Stewart X 

Subrahmanyam X 

walske X 

Weiss X 

Willrich X 

Wilson X 

York X 


Letter of transmittal III 

Letter of submittal V 

Preface VII 

Distribution of technical and institutional approaches IX 


Bernard M. Baruch. United States Atomic Energy Proposals. Address be- 
fore the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, June 14, 1946. In the 
United States and the United Nations report series 8, December 31, 1946, 
pp. 81-91 1 

Eisenhower, Dwight D. Atomic power for peace. Address before the United 
Nations General Assembly, December 8, 1953. In Congressional Record, 
v. 100, January 7, 1954, pp. 61-63 , 12 


Allday, C. The importance of nuclear fuel reprocessing. In Atom, vol. 249, 
July 1977, pp. 136-139 19 

Agnew, Harold. Atoms for lease. In Bulletin of the atomic scientists, 

May 1976, pp. 22-23 23 

Baker, Steven J. Monopoly or cartel? In Foreign policy, summer 1976, 
pp. 202-220 25 

Barnaby, Frank. Nuclear power and proliferation. In New scientist, 

July 2, 1977, pp. 168-170 35 

Bethe, H. A. The need for nuclear power. In Bulletin of the atomic scien- 
tists. March 1977 pp. 59-62 42 

Burt, Richard. Nuclear proliferation and the spread of new conventional 
weapons technology. In International security, vol. vii, winter 1977, 
pp. 119-139 50 

Carter. Jimmy E. Three steps toward nuclear responsibility. In Bulletin 
of the atomic scientists, January 1977, pp. 28-41 71 

Casper, Barry M. Laser enrichment : a new path to proliferation. In Bulle- 
tin of the atomic scientists, October 1976, p. 8-14 80 

Dahlberg, Richard C. Weapons proliferation and criteria for evaluating 
nuclear fuel cycles. In Bulletin of atomic scientists, January 1978, 
pp. 38-42 101 

Dunkel, Winfried M. Nuclear proliferation — a German view. In Military 

review, v. 57, November 1977, pp. 49-55 109 

Dunn, Lewis A. Nuclear grav marketeering. In International security, 

v. 1, winter 1977 pp. 107-118 115 

Eklund, Sigvard. Nuclear power development and non-proliferation. In 
Atom, vol. 258, April 1978, pp. 107-109 127 

Falk, Richard. Nuclear weapons proliferation as a world order problem. 

In International security, v. 1, winter 1977, pp. 79-93 130 

Feiveson, Harold, Theodore B. Taylor. Frank von Hippel and Robert Wil- 
liams. The plutonium economy : why we should wait and why we can 
wait. In Bulletin of the atomic scientists, vol. 32, no. 10, December 10, 
1976, pp. 10-14 145 

Fischer, D. A. V., Remarks at the Atomic Industrial Forum's International 

Conference on Regulating Nuclear Energy. May 18, 1978 151 

Flowers, Brian. Nuclear pow 7 er : a perspective of risks, benefits, and options. 

In Bulletin of the atomic scientists, March 1978, pp. 21-26. 54-59 157 

Gall, Norman. Atoms for Brazil, dangers for all. In foreign policy, summer 

1976, vol. 23, pp. 155-201 172 

Glazer, Sarah. The nuclear marketplace: let everybody beware. In Envi- 
ronmental action, July 31. 1976, pp. 9-11 196 

Goldschmidt, Bertrand. A historical survey of non-proliferation policies. 

In International security, summer 1977, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 69-87 200 



Hill. Sir John. International proliferation of nuclear weapons. In Atom, -Page 
vol. 253. November 1977, pp. 290-296 219 

Kissinger, Henry A. Nuclear non-proliferation speech before Senate Gov- 
ernment Operations Committee, Department of State Bulletin. March 9, 
1976 226 

Kratzer. Myron. Nuclear power and non-proliferation — an optimistic view. 

Speech given at American Power Conference, April 24, 1978 233 

Leventhal, Paul L. Proposed United States agenda for proliferation control. 
Prepared as a background paper for the January 11, 1977 meeting of the 
Current Issue Review Group on Nuclear Proliferation 261 

Long, Clarence D. Nuclear proliferation: can Congress act in time? In 
International security, spring 1977, vol. 1, pp. 55-76 272 

Mandelbaum, Michael. A nuclear exporters' cartel. In Bulletin of the 

atomic scientists, January 1977, pp. 42-50 297 

Marsham T. M. The fast reactor and the plutonium fuel cycle. In Atom, 

vol. 253. November 1977, pp. 297-311 311 

Morawitz, Wayne L. Nuclear proliferation and U.S. security. In Air uni- 
versity review, v. 28, January-February 1977, pp. 19-28 326 

Nye. Joseph S. Balancing Non-Proliferation and Energy Security. Speech 

at the Uranium Institute. London, England, July 12, 1978 336 

Owen, David. Nuclear non-proliferation. In Atom, vol. 249, July 1977, pp. 

132-135 362 

Ribicoff, Abraham. A market-sharing approach to the world nuclear sales 

problem. In Foreign affairs, v. 54, July 1976, pp. 764-787 367 

Rose David and Richard K. Lester. Nuclear power, nuclear weapons and 
international stability. In Scientific American, April 1978, vol. 238, num- 
ber 4, pp. 45-57 391 

Rotblat, J. Controlling weapons-grade fissile material. In Bulletin of atomic 

scientists, June 1977, pp. 37-43 404 

Smith, Cyril. Weapons are the real problem. In Bulletin of atomic scien- 
tists, March 1977, p. 70 414 

Starr, Chauncy. Nuclear power and weapons proliferation : the thin link. 

Speech presented at the American power conference, April 19, 1977 416 

Stewart, Bruce. Some nuclear explosions will be necessary. In Bulletin 
of the atomic scientists, October 1977, pp. 51-54 428 

Subrahmanyam, K. The nuclear issue and international security. In the 
Bulletin of the atomic scientists, February 1977, pp. 17-21 434 

Walske Carl. Nuclear electric power and the proliferation of nuclear 

weapon states. In International security, winter 1977, pp. 94-106 441 

Weiss, Leonard. Nuclear safeguards : a congressional perspective. In 
Bulletin of atomic scientists, March 1978, p. 27-33 454 

Willrich, Mason and Melvin Conant. The International Energy Agency : 
an interpretation and assessment. In American journal of international 
law, April 1977, pp. 199-223 465 

Wilson, Richard. How to have nuclear power without weapons prolifera- 
tion. In Bulletin of the atomic scientists, November 1977, pp. 39-44 490 

York. Herbert F. Nuclear proliferation — an unhappy history. In Center 

magazine, v. 9, May-June 1976, pp. 71-77 498 

United States Atomic Energy Proposals 

Presented to the United Nations Atomic Energy Com- 
mission by Bernard M. Baruch, the United States 
Representative, June 14, 1946 

My Fellow Members of the United Nations Atomic Energy 
Commission, and My Fellow Citizens of the World : 

We are here to make a choice between the quick and the dead. 

That is our business. 

Behind the black portent of the new atomic age lies a hope 
which, seized upon with faith, can work our salvation. If we 
fail, then we have damned every man to be the slave of Fear. 
Let us not deceive ourselves: We must elect World Peace or 
World Destruction. 

Science has torn from nature a secret so vast in its potentialities 
that our minds cower from the terror it creates. Yet terror is 
not enough to inhibit the use of the atomic bomb. The terror 
created by weapons has never stopped man from employing 
them. For each new weapon a defense has been produced, in 
time. But now we face a condition in which adequate defense 
does not exist. 

Science, which gave us this dread power, shows that it can be 
made a giant help to humanity, but science does not show us how 
to prevent its baleful use. So we have been appointed to obviate 
that peril by rinding a meeting of the minds and the hearts of our 
peoples. Only in the will of mankind lies the answer. 

It is to express this will and make it effective that we have been 
assembled. We must provide the mechanism to assure that 
atomic energy is used for peaceful purposes and preclude its use 
in war. To that end, we must provide immediate, swift, and sure 
punishment of those who violate the agreements that are reached 
by the nations. Penalization is essential if peace is to be more 
than a feverish interlude between wars. And, too, the United 
Nations can prescribe individual responsibility and punishment 


on the principles applied at Niirnberg by the Union of Soviet 
Socialist Kepublics, the United Kingdom, France, and the United 
States — a formula certain to benefit the world's future. 

In this crisis, we represent not only our governments but, in 
a larger way, we represent the peoples of the world. We must 
remember that the peoples do not belong to the governments but 
that the governments belong to the peoples. We must answer 
their demands ; we must answer the world's longing for peace and 

In that desire the United States shares ardently and hopefully. 
The search of science for the absolute weapon has reached fruition 
in this country. But she stands ready to proscribe and destroy 
this instrument — to lift its use from death to life — if the world 
will join in a pact to that end. 

In our success lies the promise of a new life, freed from the 
heart-stopping fears that now beset the world. The beginning 
of victory for the great ideals for which millions have bled and died 
lies in building a workable plan. Now we approach fulfilment 
of the aspirations of mankind. At the end of the road lies the 
fairer, better, surer life we crave and mean to have. 

Only by a lasting peace are liberties and democracies strength- 
ened and deepened. War is their enemy. And it will not do to 
believe that any of us can escape wars devastation. Victor, van- 
quished, and neutrals alike are affected physically, economically, 
and morally. 

Against the degradation of war we can erect a safeguard. That 
is the guerdon for which we reach. Within the scope of the for- 
mula we outline here there will be found, to those who seek it, the 
essential elements of our purpose. Others will see only emptiness. 
Each of us carries his own mirror in which is reflected hope — or de- 
termined desperation — courage or cowardice. 

There is a famine throughout the world today. It starves men's 
bodies. But there is a greater famine — the hunger of men's spirit. 
That starvation can be cured by the conquest of fear, and the sub- 
stitution of hope, from which springs faith — faith in eacli other, 
faitli that we w:int to work together toward salvation, and deter- 
mination that those who threaten the peace and safety shall be 

The peoples of these democracies gathered here have a particu- 
lar concern with our answer, for their peoples hate war. They 
will have a hi action to make of those who fail to provide an 

They are UO< afraid of an internationalism that protects; 

they are unwilling to be fobbed off by mouthiiigs about narrow sov- 
ereignty, which is today's phrase for yesterday's isolation. 

The basis of a sound foreign policy, in this new age, for ai 
nations here gathered, is that anything that happens, no oa 
where or how, which menaces the peace of the world, or tin 
nomic stability, concerns each and all of us. 

That, roughly, may be said to be the central theme of the United 
Nations. It is with that thought we begin consideration of the 
most important subject that can engage mankind — life itself. 

Let there be no quibbling about the duty and the responsibility 
of this group and of the governments we represent. I was moved, 
in the afternoon of my life, to add my effort to gain the world's 
quest, by the broad mandate under which we were created. The 
resolution of the General Assembly, passed January 24, 1946 in 
London, reads : 

"Section V. Terms of Reference of the Commission 

"The Commission shall proceed with the utmost despatch and 
enquire into all phases of the problem, and make such recommen- 
dations from time to time with respect to them as it finds possible. 
In particular the Commission shall make specific proposals: 

u (a) For extending between all nations the exchange of basic 
scientific information for peaceful ends ; 

"(5) For control of atomic energy to the extent necessary to 
ensure its use only for peaceful purposes ; 

"(<?) For the elimination from national armaments of atomic 
weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass 
destruction ; 

"(d) For effective safeguards by way of inspection and other 
means to protect complying States against the hazards of viola- 
tions and evasions. 

"The work of the Commission should proceed by separate 
stages, the successful completion of each of which will develop 
the necessary confidence of the world before the next stage is 
undertaken. . . ." 1 

Our mandate rests, in text and in spirit, upon the outcome of 
the Conference in Moscow of Messrs. Molotov of the Union of 
Soviet Socialist Republics, Bevin of the United Kingdom, and 
Byrnes of the United States of America. The three Foreign 

1 Department of State Bulletin, Feb. 10, 1946, p. 198. 

Ministers on December 27, 1945 proposed the establishment of 
this body. 2 

Their action was animated by a preceding conference in Wash- 
ington on November 15, 1945, when the President of the United 
States, associated with Mr. Attlee, Prime Minister of the United 
Kingdom, and Mr. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, 
stated that international control of the whole field of atomic 
energy was immediately essential. They proposed the formation 
of this body. In examining that source, the Agreed Declaration, 
it will be found that the fathers of the concept recognized the 
final means of world salvation — the abolition of war. Solemnly 
they wrote : 

"We are aware that the only complete protection for the 
civilized world from the destructive use of scientific knowledge 
lies in the prevention of war. No system of safeguards that can 
be devised will of itself provide an effective guarantee against 
production of atomic weapons by a nation bent on aggression. 
Nor can we ignore the possibility of the development of other 
weapons, or of new methods of warfare, which may constitute 
as great a threat to civilization as the military use of atomic 
energy." 3 

Through the historical approach I have outlined, we find our- 
selves here to test if man can produce, through his will and faith, 
the miracle of peace, just as he has, through science and skill, the 
miracle of the atom. 

The United States proposes the creation of an International 
Atomic Development Authority, to which should be entrusted all 
phases of the development and use of atomic energy, starting with 
the raw material and including — 

1. Managerial control or ownership of all atomic-energy activi- 
ties potentially dangerous to world security. 

2. Power to control, inspect, and license all other atomic 

3. The duty of fostering the beneficial uses of atomic energy. 

4. Research and development responsibilities of an affirmative 
character intended to put the Authority in the forefront of atomic 
knowledge and thus to enable it to comprehend, and therefore to 
detect, misuse of atomic energy. To be effective, the Authority 
must itself be the world's leader in the field of atomic knowledge 

5 Department of state Bulletin, Dec. 30, VM:>, p. 1031. 
•""/.. Nov. 18, 1945, p. 781. 

and development and thus supplement its legal authority with the 
great power inherent in possession of leadership in knowledge. 

I offer this as a basis for beginning our discussion. 

But I think the peoples we serve would not believe — and with- 
out faith nothing counts — that a treaty, merely outlawing pos- 
session or use of the atomic bomb, constitutes effective fulfilment 
of the instructions to this Commission. Previous failures have 
been recorded in trying the method of simple renunciation, un- 
supported by effective guaranties of security and armament 
limitation. No one would have faith in that approach alone. 

Now, if ever, is the time to act for the common good. Public 
opinion supports a world movement toward security. If I read 
the signs aright, the peoples want a program not composed merely 
of pious thoughts but of enforceable sanctions — an international 
law with teeth in it. 

We of this nation, desirous of helping to bring peace to the 
world and realizing the heavy obligations upon us arising from 
our possession of the means of producing the bomb and from the 
fact that it is part of our armament, are prepared to make our 
full contribution toward effective control of atomic energy 7 . 

When an adequate system for control of atomic energy, includ- 
ing the renunciation of the bomb as a weapon, has been agreed 
upon and put into effective operation and condign punishments 
set up for violations of the rules of control which are to be 
stigmatized as international crimes, we propose that — 

1. Manufacture of atomic bombs shall stop ; 

2. Existing bombs shall be disposed of pursuant to the terms of 
the treaty; and 

3. The Authority shall be in possession of full information as 
to the know-how for the production of atomic energy. 

Let me repeat, so as to avoid misunderstanding: My country is 
ready to make its full contribution toward the end we seek, subject 
of course to our constitutional processes and to an adequate system 
of control becoming fully effective, as we finally work it out. 

Now as to violations : In the agreement, penalties of as serious 
a nature as the nations may wish and as immediate and certain in 
their execution as possible should be fixed for — 

1. Illegal possession or use of an atomic bomb : 

2. Illegal possession, or separation, of atomic material suitable 
for use in an atomic bomb ; 

3. Seizure of any plant or other property belonging to or li- 
censed by the Authority ; 

37-189 O - 79 - 2 


4. Wilful interference with the activities of the Authority; 

5. Creation or operation of dangerous projects in a manner 
contrary to, or in the absence of, a license granted by the inter- 
national control body. 

It would be a deception, to which I am unwilling to lend myself, 
were I not to say to you and to our peoples that the matter of pun- 
ishment lies at the very heart of our present security system. It 
might as well be admitted, here and now, that the subject goes 
straight to the veto power contained in the Charter of the United 
Xations so far as it relates to the field of atomic energy. The 
Charter permits penalization only by concurrence of each of the 
five great powers — the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the 
United Kingdom, China, France, and the United States. 

I want to make very plain that I am concerned here with the veto 
power only as it affects this particular problem. There must be no 
veto to protect those who violate their solemn agreements not to 
develop or use atomic energy for destructive purposes. 

The bomb does not wait upon debate. To delay may be to die. 
The time between violation and preventive action or punishment 
would be all too short for extended discussion as to the course to 
be followed. 

As matters now stand several years may be necessary for another 
country to produce a bomb, de novo. However, once the basic 
information is generally known, and the Authority has established 
producing plants for peaceful purposes in the several countries, an 
illegal seizure of such a plant might permit a malevolent nation to 
produce a bomb in 12 months, and if preceded by secret prepara- 
tion and necessary facilities perhaps even in a much shorter time. 
The time required — the advance warning given of the possible use 
of a bomb — can only be generally estimated but obviously will de- 
pend upon many factors, including the success with which the Au- 
thority has been able to introduce elements of safety in the design 
of its plants and the degree to which illegal and secret preparation 
for the military use of atomic energy will have been eliminated. 
Presumably no nation would think of start ing a war with only one 

This shows how imperative speed is in detecting and penalizing 

The process of prevention ami penalization — a problem of pro- 
found statecraft — is, as I read it. implicit in the Moscow statement, 
signed by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United 

States, and the United Kingdom a few months ago. 

But before a country is ready to relinquish any winning weapons 
it must have more than words to reassure it. It must have a guar- 
antee of safety, not only against the offenders in the atomic area 
but against the illegal users of other weapons — bacteriological, 
biological, gas — perhaps — why not % — against war itself. 

In the elimination of war lies our solution, for only then will 
nations cease to compete with one another in the production and 
use of dread "secret" weapons which are evaluated solely by their 
capacity to kill. This devilish program takes us back not merely 
to the Dark Ages but from cosmos to chaos. If we succeed in find- 
ing a suitable way to control atomic weapons, it is reasonable to 
hope that we may also preclude the use of other weapons adaptable 
to mass destruction. When a man learns to say "A" he can, if he 
chooses, learn the rest of the alphabet too. 

Let this be anchored in our minds : 

Peace is never long preserved by weight of metal or by an arma- 
ment race. Peace can be made tranquil and secure only by un- 
derstanding and agreement fortified by sanctions. We must 
embrace international cooperation or international disintegration. 

Science has taught us how to put the atom to work. But to 
make it work for good instead of for evil lies in the domain dealing 
with the principles of human duty. We are now facing a problem 
more of ethics than of physics. 

The solution will require apparent sacrifice in pride and in 
position, but better pain as the price of peace than death as the 
price of war. 

I now submit the following measures as representing the funda- 
mental features of a plan which would give effect to certain of 
the conclusions which I have epitomized. 

1. General. The Authority should set up a thorough plan for 
control of the field of atomic energy, through various forms of 
ownership, dominion, licenses, operation, inspection, research, 
and management by competent personnel. After this is provided 
for, there should be as little interference as may be with the eco- 
nomic plans and the present private, corporate, and state relation- 
ships in the several countries involved. 

2. Raw Materials. The Authority should have as one of its 
earliest purposes to obtain and maintain complete and accurate 
information on world supplies of uranium and thorium and to 
bring them under its dominion. The precise pattern of control 
for various types of deposits of such materials will have to depend 
upon the geological, mining, refining, and economic facts involved 
in different situations. 

The Authority should conduct continuous surveys so that it will 
have the most complete knowledge of the world geology of ura- 
nium and thorium. Only after all current information on world 
sources of uranium and thorium is known to us all can equitable 
plans be made for their production, refining, and distribution. 

3. Primary Production Plants. The Authority should exercise 
complete managerial control of the production of fissionable mate- 
rials. This means that it should control and operate all plants 
producing fissionable materials in dangerous Quantities and must 
own and control the product of these plants. 

If. Atomic Explosives. The Authority should be given sole and 
exclusive right to conduct research in the field of atomic explosives. 
Research activities in the field of atomic explosives are essential 
in order that the Authority may keep in the forefront of knowledge 
in the field of atomic energy and fulfil the objective of preventing 
illicit manufacture of bombs. Only by maintaining its position 
as the best-informed agency will the Authority be able to deter- 
mine the line between intrinsically dangerous and non-dangerous 

5. Strategic Distribution of Activities and Materials. The ac- 
tivities entrusted exclusively to the Authority because they are 
intrinsically dangerous to security should be distributed through- 
out the world. Similarly, stockpiles of raw materials and fission- 
able materials should not be centralized. 

6. Non-Dangerous Activities. A function of the Authority 
should be promotion of the peacetime benefits of atomic energy. 

Atomic research (except in explosives) , the use of research reac- 
tors, the production of radioactive tracers by means of non-dan- 
gerous reactors, the use of such tracers, and to some extent the 
production of power should be open to nations and their citizens 
under reasonable licensing arrangements from the Authority. De- 
natured materials, whose use we know also requires suitable safe- 
guards, should be furnished for such purposes by the Authority 
under lease or other arrangement. Denaturing seems to have been 
overestimated by the public as a safety measure. 

7. Definition of Dangerous and Non-Dangerous Activities. Al- 
though a reasonable dividing line can be drawn between dangerous 
and non-dangerous activities, it is not hard and fast. Provision 
should, therefore, be made to assure constant re-examination of the 
questions and to permit revision of the dividing line as changing 
conditions and new discoveries may require. 

8. O perations of Dangerous Activities. Any plant dealing with 
uranium or thorium after it once reaches the potential of dangerous 

use must be not only subject to the most rigorous and competent 
inspection by the Authority, but its actual operation shall be under 
the management, supervision, and control of the Authority. 

9. Inspection. By assigning intrinsically dangerous activities 
exclusively to the Authority, the difficulties of inspection are re- 
duced. If the Authority is the only agency which nay lawfully 
conduct dangerous activities, then visible operation byNthers than 
the Authority will constitute an unambiguous danger signal. In- 
spection will also occur in connection with the licensing functions 
of the Authority. 

10. Freedom of Access. Adequate ingress and egress for all 
qualified representatives of the Authority must be assured. Many 
of the inspection activities of the Authority should grow out of, 
and be incidental to, its other functions. Important measures of 
inspection will be associated with the tight control of raw materials, 
for this is a keystone of the plan. The continuing activities of 
prospecting, survey, and research in relation to raw materials will 
be designed not only to serve the affirmative development func- 
tions of the Authority but also to assure that no surreptitious opera- 
tions are conducted in the raw-materials field by nations or their 

11. Personnel. The personnel of the Authority should be re- 
cruited on a basis of proven competence but also so far as possible 
on an international basis. 

12. Progress by Stages. A primary step in the creation of the 
system of control is the setting forth, in comprehensive terms, of 
the functions, responsibilities, powers, and limitations of the Au- 
thority. Once a charter for the Authority has been adopted, the 
Authority and the system of control for which it will be responsible 
will require time to become fully organized and effective. The plan 
of control will, therefore, have to come into effect in successive 
stages. These should be specifically fixed in the charter or means 
should be otherwise set forth in the charter for transitions from 
one stage to another, as contemplated in the resolution of the 
United Nations Assembly which created this Commission. 

13. Disclosures. In the deliberations of the United Nations 
Commission on Atomic Energy, the United States is prepared to 
make available the information essential to a reasonable under- 
standing of the proposals which it advocates. Further disclosures 
must be dependent, in the interests of all, upon the effective rati- 
fication of the treaty. When the Authority is actually created, 
the United States will join the other nations in making available 


the further information essential to that organization for the 
performance of its functions. As the successive stages of inter- 
national control are reached, the United States will be prepared to 
yield, to the extent required by each stage, national control of 
activities in this field to the Authority. 

llf. International Control. There will be questions about the 
extent of control to be allowed to national bodies, when the Au- 
thority is established. Purely national authorities for control and 
development of atomic energy should to the extent necessary for 
the effective operation o± xv »e Authority be subordinate to it. This 
is neither an endorsement nor a disapproval of the creation of 
national authorities. The Commission should evolve a clear de- 
marcation of the scope of duties and responsibilities of such na- 
tional authorities. 

And now I end. I have submitted an outline for present dis- 
cussion. Our consideration will be broadened by the criticism 
of the United States proposals and by the plans of the other na- 
tions, which, it is to be hoped, will be submitted at their early con- 
venience. I and my associates of the United States Delegation 
will make available to each member of this body books and pam- 
phlets, including the Acheson-Lilienthal report, recently made by 
the United States Department of State, and the McMahon Com- 
mittee Monograph No. 1 entitled "Essential Information on 
Atomic Energy" relating to the McMahon bill recently passed by 
the United States Senate, which may prove of value in assessing 
the situation. 4 

All of us are consecrated to making an end of gloom and hope- 
lessness. It will not be an easy job. The way is long and thorny, 
but supremely worth traveling. All of us want to stand erect, 
with our faces to the sun, instead of being forced to burrow into 
the earth, like rats. 

The pattern of salvation must be worked out by all for all. 

The light at the end of the tunnel is dim, but our path seems to 
grow brighter as we actually begin our journey. We cannot yet 
light the way to the end. However, we hope the suggestions of 
my Government will be illuminating. 

Let us keep in mind the exhortation of Abraham Lincoln, whose 
words, uttered at a moment of shattering national peril, form a 

'Department of State publication 2498; for excerpts from the Acheson- 
Lilienthal report see Department of State Bulletin, Apr. 7, 1946, p. 553. The 
text of the McMahon bill is S. Kept 1211, 79th Cong. 


complete text for our deliberation. I quote, paraphrasing 
slightly: ■ 

"We cannot escape history. We of this meeting will be remem- 
bered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignifi- 
cance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through 
which we are passing will light us down in honor or dishonor to the 
latest generation. 

"We say we are for Peace. The world will not forget that we 
say this. We know how to save Peace. The world knows that we 
do. We, even we here, hold the power and have the responsibility. 

"We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of earth. 
The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if fol- 
lowed, the world will forever applaud." 

My thanks for your attention. 


[Prom the Congressional Record, vol. 100, Jan. 7, 1954, pp. 61-63] 


Atomic Power for Peace 

When Secretary-General Hammarskjold's invitation to address this 
General Assembly reached me in Bermuda, I was just beginning a 
series of conferences with the Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers 
of Great Britain and of France. Our subject was some of the problems 
that beset our world. 

During the remainder of the Bermuda Conference, I had constantly 
in mind that ahead of me lay a great honor. That honor is mine today 
as I stand here, privileged to address the General Assembly of the 
United Nations. 

At the same time that I appreciate the distinction of addressing you, 
I have a sense of exhilaration as 1 look upon this Assembly. 

Never before in history has so much hope for so many people been 
gathered together in a single organization. Your deliberations and 
decisions during these somber years have already realized part of those 

But the great tests and the great accomplishments still lie ahead. 
And in the confident expectation of those accomplishments, I would 
use the office which, for the time being, I hold, to assure you that the 
Government of the United States will remain steadfast in its support 
of this body. This we shall do in the conviction that you will provide 
a great share of the wisdom, the courage, and the faith which can bring 
to this world lasting peace for all nations, and happiness and well- 
beinsr for all men.) \ 

Clearly, it would not be fitting for me to take this occasion to present 
to you a unilateral American report on Bermuda. Nevertheless, I as- 
sure you that in our deliberations on that lovely island we sought to 
invoke those same great concepts of universal peace and human dignity 
which are so cleanly etched in your charter. 

Neither would it be a measure of this great opportunity merely to 
recite, however hopefully, pious platitudes. 


I therefore decided that this occasion warranted m.v saying to you 
some of the things that have been on the minds and hearts of my 
legislative and executive associates and on mine for a great many 
months — thoughts 1 had originally planned to say primarily to the 
American people. 

T know that the American people share my deep belief thai if a 
danger exists in the world it is a danger shared by all. and. equally, 
thai if hope exists in the mind of one nation that hope should be 
shared by all. 

Finallv. if there is to be advanced any proposal designed to ease 
even by the smallest measure the tensions of today's world, what more 
appropriate audience could there be than the members of the General 
A ssemblv of ! he [ 'nited \at ions ' 


I feel impelled to speak today in a language that in a sense is new — 
one which I. who have spent so much of my life in the military profes- 
sion, would have preferred never to use. 

That new language is the language of atomic warfare. 

The atomic age has moved forward at such a pace that every citizen 
of the world should have some comprehension, at least, in comparative 
terms, of the extent of this development, of the utmost significance to 
every one of us. Clearly, if the peoples of the world are to conduct 
an intelligent search for peace, they must be armed with the significant 
facts of today's existence. 

My recital of atomic danger and power is necessarily stated in 
United States terms, for these are the only incontrovertible facts that 
I know. I need hardly point out to this Assembly, however, that this 
subject is global, not merely national, in character. 


On July 16. 1045, the United States set otf the world's first atomic 

Since that date in 1945 the United States of America has conducted 
42 test explosions. 

Atomic bourns today are more than 25 times as powerful as the weap- 
ons with which the atomic aire dawned, while hydrogen weapons are 
in the ranges of millions of tons of TXT equivalent. 

Today the United States stockpile of atomic weapons, which, of 
course, increases daily, exceeds by many times the explosive equivalent 
of the total of all bombs and all shells that came from every plane 
and everv gun in everv theater of war in all of the vears of World War 

A single air group, whether afloat or land-based, ean now deliver 
to any reachable target a destructive cargo exceeding in power all the 
bombs that fell on Britain in all of World War II. 

In size and variety, the development, of atomic weapons has been 
no less remarkable. The development has been such that atomic weap- 
ons have virtually achieved conventional status within our armed 
services. In the United States, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and 
the Marine Corps are all capable of putting this weapon to military 

But the dread secret, and the. fearful engines of atomic might, are 
not ours alone. 

In the first place, the secret is possessed by our friends and allies. 
Great. Britain and Canada, whose scientific genius made a tremendous 
contribution to our original discoveries, and the designs of atomic 

The secret is also known bv the Soviet Union. 

The Soviet Union has informed us that, over recent years, it has 
devoted extensive resources to atomic weapons. During this period, 
the Soviet Union has exploded a series of atomic devices, including at 
least, one involving thermo-nuclear reactions. 


If at one time the United States possessed what might have been 
called a monopoly of atomic power, that monopoly ceased to exist sev- 


eral years ago. Therefore, although our earlier start has permitted us 
to accumulate what is today a great quantitative advantage, the atomic 
realities of today comprehend tAvo facts of even greater significance. 

First, the knowledge now possessed bv several nations will even- 
tually be shared by others — possibly all others. 

Second, even a vast superiority in numbers of weapons, and con- 
sequent capability of devastating retaliation, is no preventive, of it- 
self, against the fearful material damage and toll of human lives that 
would be inflicted by surprise aggression. 

The free world, at least dimly aware of these facts, has naturally 
embarked on a large program of warning and defense systems. That 
program will be accelerated and expanded. 

But let no one think that the expenditure of vast sums for weapons 
and systems of defense can guarantee absolute safety for the cities 
and citizens of any nation. The awful arithmetic of the atomic bomb 
does not permit of any such easy solution. Even against the most pow- 
erful defense, an aggressor in possession of the effective minimum 
number of atomic bombs for a surprise attack could probably place 
a sufficient number of his bombs on the chosen targets to cause hideous 

Should such an atomic attack be launched against the United States, 
our reactions would be swift and resolute. But for me to say that the 
defense capabilities of the United States are such that they could in- 
flict terrible losses upon an aggressor — for me to say that the retalia- 
tion capabilities of the United States are so great that such an aggres- 
sor's land would be laid waste — all this, while fact, is not the true 
expression of the purpose and the hope of the United States. 

To pause there would be to confirm the hopeless finality of a belief 
that two atomic colossi are doomed malevolently to eye each other 
indefinitely across a trembling world. To stop there would be to accept 
helplessly the probability of civilization destroyed, the annihilation 
of the irreplaceable heritage of mankind handed down to us from 
generation to generation, and the condemnation of mankind to begin 
all over again the acre-old struggle upward from savagery toward 
decencv and right and justice. 

Surely no sane member of the human race could discover victory in 
such desolation. Could anyone wish his name to he coupled by history 
with such human degradation and destruction? 

Occasional pages of history do record the. faces of the "great de- 
stroyers," but the whole book of history reveals mankind's never-end- 
ing quest for peace and mankind's God-given capacity to build. 

It is with the l>ook of history and not with isolated pages that the 
United States will ever wish to he identified. My country wants to be 
constructive, not destructive. It wants agreements, not wars, among 
nations. It wants itself to live in freedom and in the confidence that 
(lie people of every other nation enjoy equally the right of choosing 
their own way of life. 


S<> my country's purpose is to help us move out of the dark chamber 
of horrors into the light to find a way bv which the minds of men, 
the hopes of men. the souls of men everywhere, can move forward 
toward peace and happiness and well-being. 


In this quest I know that we must not lark patience. 

I know that in a world divided such as ours today salvation can- 
not be attained by one dramatic act. 

I know that many steps will have to be taken over many months 
before the world can look at itself one day and truly realize that a 
new climate of mutually peaceful confidence is abroad in the world. 

But I know, above all else, that we must start to take these steps — 

The United States and its allies. Great Britain and France, have 
over the past months tried to take some of these steps. Let no one 
say that we shun the conference table. 

On the record has long stood the request of the United States, 
Great Britain, and France to negotiate with the Soviet Union the 
problems of a divided Germany. 

On that record has long stood the request of the same three nations 
to negotiate an Austrian State Treaty. 

On the same record still stands the request of the United Nations 
to negotiate the problems of Korea. 

Most recently, we have received from the Soviet Union what is in 
effect an expression of willingness to hold a Four Power meeting. 
Along with our allies. Great Britain and France, we were pleased to 
see that this note did not contain the unacceptable preconditions 
previously put forward. 

As you already know from our joint Bermuda communique, the 
United States, Great Britain, and France have agreed promptly to 
meet with the Soviet Union. 

The Government of the United States approaches this conference 
with hopeful sincerity. We will bend every effort of our minds to the 
single purpose of emerging from that conference with tangible results 
toward peace — the only true way of lessening international tension. 

We never have, we never will, propose or suggest that the Soviet 
Union surrender what is rightfully theirs. 

We will never say that the peoples of Russia are an enemy with 
whom we have no desire ever to deal or mingle in friendly and fruitful 

On the contrary, we hope that this conference may initiate a rela- 
tionship with the Soviet Union which will eventually bring about a 
free intermingling of the peoples of the East and of the West — the 
one sure, human way of developing the understanding required for 
confident and peaceful relations. 

Instead of the discontent which is now settling upon Eastern Ger- 
many, occupied Austria, and the countries of Eastern Europe, we seek 
a harmonious family of free European nations, with none a threat 
to the other, and least of all a threat to the peoples of Russia. 

Beyond the turmoil and strife and misery of Asia, we seek peaceful 
opportunity for these peoples to develop their natural resources and 
to elevate their lives. 

These are not idle words or shallow visions. Behind them lies a 
story of nations lately come to independence, not as a result of war, 
but through free grant or peaceful negotiation. There is a record, 
already written, of assistance gladly given by nations of the West 
to needy peoples, and to those suffering the temporary effects of 
famine, drought, and natural disaster. 


These are deeds of peace. They speak more loudly than promises 
or protestations of peaceful intent. 


But I do not wish to rest either upon the reiteration of past pro- 
posals or the restatement of past deeds. The gravity of the time is 
such that every new avenue of peace, no matter how dimly discernible, 
should be explored. 

There is at least one new avenue of peace which has not yet been 
well explored — an avenue now laid out by the General Assembly of 
the United Nations. 

In its resolution of November 28, 1953, this General Assembly 
suggested — and I quote — "that the Disarmament Commission study 
the desirability of establishing a subcommittee consisting of represent- 
atives of the Powers principally involved, which should seek in pri- 
vate an acceptable solution * * * and report on such a solution to 
the General Assembly and to the Security Council not later than 
September 1, 195-L'' 

The United States, heeding the su^aestion of the General Assembly 
of the United Nations, is instantly prepared to meet privately with 
such other countries as may be principally involved, to seek an ac- 
ceptable solution to the atomic armaments race which overshadows 
not only the peace, but the very life, of the world. 

We shall carry into these private or diplomatic talks a new concep- 

The United States would seek more than the mere reduction or 
elimination of atomic materials for military purposes. 

It is not enough to take this weapon out of the hands of the soldiers. 
It must be put into the hands of those who will know how to strip its 
military casing and adapt it to the arts of peace. 

The United States knows that if the fearful trend of atomic military 
buildup can be reversed, this greatest of destructive forces can be 
developed into a great boon, for- the benefit of all mankind. 

The United States knows that peaceful power from atomic energy 
is no dream of the future. That capability, already proved, is here — 
now — today. Who can doubt, if the entire body of the world's scientists 
and engineers had adequate amounts of fissionable material with which 
to test, and develop their ideas, that this capability would rapidly be 
transformed into universal, efficient, and economic usa^e. 

To hasten the day when fear of the atom will begin to disappear 
from the minds of people, and the governments of the East and West, 
there are certain steps that can be taken now. 


I therefore make the following proposals: 

The governments principally involved, to the extent permitted by 

elementary prudence, to begin now and continue to make joint contri- 
butions from their stockpiles of normal uranium and fissionable ma- 
terials to an International Atomic Energy Agency. Wc would expect 
that such an agency would be set up under the aegis of the United 


The ratios of contributions, the procedures and other details would 
properly be within the scope of the private conversations I have 
referred to earlier. 

The United States is prepared to undertake these explorations in 
pood faith. Any partner of the United States acting in the same good 
faith will find the United States a not unreasonable or ungenerous 

Undoubtedly initial and early contributions to this plan would be 
small in quantity. However, the proposal has the great virtue that it 
can be undertaken without the irritations and mutual suspicions in- 
cident to any attempt to set up a completely acceptable system of 
worldwide inspection and control. 

The Atomic Energy Agency could be made responsible for the im- 
pounding, storage, and protection of the contributed fissionable and 
other materials. The ingenuity of our scientists will provide special 
safe conditions under which such a bank of fissionable material can 
be made essentially immune to surprise seizure. 

The more important responsibility of this Atomic Energy Agency 
would be to devise methods whereby this fissionable material would 
be allocated to serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind. Experts would 
be mobilized to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture, medi- 
cine, and other peaceful activities. A special purpose would be to pro- 
vide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the 
world. Thus the contributing powers would be dedicating some of 
their strength to serve the needs rather than the fears of mankind. 

The United States would be more than willing — it would be proud 
to take up with others principally involved the development of plans 
whereby such peaceful use of atomic energy would be expedited. 

Of those principally involved the Soviet Union must, of course, be 


I would be prepared to submit to the Congress of the United States, 
and with every expectation of approval, any such plan that would — 

First, encourage worldwide investigation into the most effective 
peacetime uses of fissionable material, and with the certainty that 
they had all the material needed for the conduct of all experiments 
that were appropriate. 

Second, begin to rfiminsh the potential destructie power of the 
world's atomic stockpiles: 

Third, allow all peoples of all nations to see that, in this enlightened 
age, the great powers of the earth, both of the East and of the West, 
are interested in human aspirations first, rather than in building up 
the armaments of war: 

Fourth, open up a new channel for peaceful discussion and initiate 
at least a new approach to the many difficult problems that must be 
solved in both private and public conversations, if the world is to 
shake off the inertia imposed by fear: and is to make positive progress 
toward peace. 

Against the dark background of the atomic bomb, the United States 
does not wish merely to present strength, but also the desire and the 
hope for peace. 


The coming months will be fraught with fateful decisions. In this 
Assembly: in the capitals and military headquarters of the world: in 
the hearts of men everywhere, be they governors or governed, may they 
be the decisions which will lead this world out of fear and into peace. 

To the making of these fateful decisions, the United States pledges 
before you — and therefore before the world — its determination to 
help solve the fearful atomic dilemma, to devote its entire heart and 
mind to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man 
shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life. 



The following paper by C. Allday, Managing Director 
of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd, was presented on his 
behalf to the AIF Conference on International 
Commerce and Safeguards for Civil Nuclear Power, 
in New York City, 14th March, 1977. 


It is a little over a generation ago that power 
from the atom was first held out as providing 
the key to a prosperous future for mankind. 
The intervening years have seen many 
developments including events which have 
confirmed that nuclear energy has the 
potential for evil as well as for the good 
of mankind. The scientific community and 
the public at large have become more sophisti- 
cated and there are increasing demands for 
the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear 
power, and of the industrialised society 
which it will support, to be carefully weighed 
in the balance before the "world" commits 
itself to the widespread use of nuclear power. 
Recently there has been growing cynicism 
about the sort of society which is based on 
continuing economic growth, and nuclear 
power, for a variety of reasons, has become 
a prime target for attack in the debate. This 
philosophical preoccupation with the structure 
of society is identified most closely with the 
industrialised nations of the world. 

The trend in industrialised societies in 
particular throughout the 20th Century has 
been towards greater concern for the indi- 
vidual. This has resulted in the "common 
man" demanding an increased material well- 
being and a tendency for increased emphasis 
to be placed on the health and general 
welfare of the public at large. Both these 
developments have a bearing on the position 
of nuclear power in modern society but for a 
variety of reasons in recent years the emphasis 
has been placed more on the potential 
environmental and health hazards of nuclear 
power than on its benefits and this has been 
reflected by the higher standards which have 
been applied within the nuclear industry as a 
whole. This is to be applauded but it seems 
a great pity that the pendulum has swung so 
far in the direction of over emphasising the 
dangers of nuclear power compared with those 
of other methods of supplying society with 
its energy requirements. The great promise 

of nuclear energy has in no way diminished 
over the intervening years and indeed changing 
world circumstances have continued to stress 
the long term need for nuclear power. It has 
become all too obvious that the world's 
energy resources are severely limited and 
that every effort should be devoted to con- 
serving these and other resources, making the 
best use of what energy is available to main- 
tain economic growth and to help bring an 
at least tolerable standard of living (rather 
than existence) to the great majority of the 
world's population. The only energy resource 
immediately available which has the potential 
to do more than fill a short term energy gap 
is uranium. That potential will only be realised 
if the uranium and plutonium present in 
spent fuel is recovered and recycled. Without 
this, uranium will be just another energy 
source which will run out at some point 
in the medium term future leaving the world 
with no firm prospects for continuing energy 
supplies. Unless the fast reactor is developed 
commercially and fuelled with plutonium 
it can even be argued that the entire nuclear 
programme will have been a misuse of the 
world's resources. It is on the long term 
requirement to conserve energy resources 
that the case for reprocessing spent fuel is 
based. This paper sets out the arguments 
why reprocessing rather than being suspended 
in the short term must be progressively 
expanded. There are undoubtedly problems 
associated with reprocessing but these do 
not provide sufficient reasons not to proceed. 
The nettle must be grasped and man must 
use his ingenuity to overcome these problems. 

World energy requirements 

The recent OECD report "World Energy 
Outlook" (January 1977) emphasises the 
continuing problems which the v\orld faces 
in placing over-reliance on oil for primary 
energy requirements. The report concludes 
that immediate action is needed if the in- 
dustrialised Western nations are to guarantee 

Allday, C. The importance of nuclear fuel reprocessing. In 
Atom v vol. 249, July 1977, pp. 136-139 

Copyright material reproduced with permission of copyright 


their energy supplies in the next decade. 
One of the report's suggestions is that nations 
will have to achieve a very significant ex- 
pansion of their nuclear programmes by 
1990 in order to displace fossil fuels in 
electricity generation sufficiently to hold 
oil imports to an acceptable level. The 
report is a timely reminder that oil resources 
are severely limited and that these limitations 
will begin to be felt well before resources 
are completely exhausted. Coal will un- 
doubtedly play an important part in revised 
energy policies but it is an inescapable fact 
that the world's coal industries will be 
stretched in maintaining the necessary sup- 
plies on the timescale required and at economic 
prices. What is true for the industrialised 
countries of the world is even more vital 
for the developing nations. In a review of 
world energy resources (World Nuclear 
Power Conference — Washington, November 
1976), Andre Giraud observed that the rate 
of growth in power consumption is faster 
when a country's economy is at the inter- 
mediate stage of growth. It is possible to 
conclude from his studies that countries 
currently at the intermediate stage of growth 
will require about 30 per cent of the world's 
nuclear power capacity by the year 2000 
although their requirements will be negligible 
before about 1985. 

The world must remain committed to an 
expanding nuclear power programme. To 
support it uranium supplies will have to be 
increased. Although estimates differ there 
would seem to be a consensus that presently 
identifiable uranium resources would be 
sufficient to meet the lifetime requirements 
of reactors up to the early 1990s. Beyond 
that it has been suggested that as yet un- 
discovered deposits would be available to 
meet thermal reactor requirements up to the 
second decade of the next century. So already 
one can see the upper limits to the contri- 
bution which thermal reactors burning new 
uranium can make to the world's energy 

Energy conservation and the 
economics of recycle 

Fuels discharged from 'light water reactors 
contain almost half as much fissionable 
material as contained in unirradiated fuel. 
The unburnt uranium is still slightly enriched 
in U-235 and so when recycled it can serve 
to decrease both feed and separative work 
requirements for fresh fuel. In addition the 
plutonium produced, if separated and re- 
cycled in place of some of the fresh uranium 
inventory can also contribute similar savings. 

Cumulative savings of about 18 per cent 
and 26 per cent for separative work and feed 
respectively for recycle have been projected 
up to the year 2000 (ERDA Report, December 
1976). The GESMO Report (August 1976) 
also suggested that there was little to choose 
between a recycle and no-recycle strategy 
from the environmental impact point of view. 
What can be said about the conservation 
of energy resources by uranium and plu- 
tonium recycle in thermal reactors is amplified 
by orders of magnitude when considering 
the use of plutonium in fast reactors. The case 
for reprocessing is tied intimately to the 
widespread use of fast reactors. In order to 
use world uranium supplies efficiently fast 
reactors must be adopted on a wide scale by 
the beginning of the next century. In order to 
provide the plutonium needed for the fast 
reactor programme, reprocessing capacity 
must be available on an appropriate timescale. 
It has been estimated that a large fast reactor 
programme will begin to take off late in the 
1990s and that there will be a period of only 
about 15 years in which estimated plutonium 
stocks from the thermal programme will be 
available to support the expansion. Given the 
uncertainty associated with such projections 
it will be essential for there to be sufficient 
flexibility in the planned build up of repro- 
cessing capacity for the demands of the fast 
reactor to be met on the required timescale. 
This in turn means that reprocessing techno- 
logy must be thoroughly developed and 
proven by the late 1980s. 

The fundamental argument for reprocessing 
and against the "throw away" alternative 
is energy conservation. A case has also been 
made for the economic advantage of re- 
processing and recycling uranium and plu- 
tonium over the alternative of the so-called 
"throw away" fuel cycle, whilst other cases 
have been made for the economic disad- 
vantage of this strategy. In either case the 
benefits or penalties which have been assessed 
are marginal compared with the overall 
cost of nuclear generated electricity and the 
overriding consideration of energy resource 

Environmental considerations and 
the timescale of reprocessing 

The reprocessing function is to separate 
out the uranium and plutonium from the 
other highly radioactive actinides and fission 
products in spent fuel. The only alternative 
is the long term storage and eventual disposal 
of the spent fuel itself. There are en- 
vironmental considerations which also demon- 
strate the need for reprocessing especially 


when considered in conjunction with the 
energy conservation arguments. 

1 000 MW(E) days of energy produced 
by nuclear fission produces about 3-6 kg 
of fission products, and this represents 
about 3 per cent by weight of the spent fuel 
itself. At present the separated fission products 
are stored in solution in high integrity 
stainless steel tanks. Typically the highly 
active waste solutions are evaporated to an 
extent that about 0-25 cubic metres of 
liquor results from the processing of 1 tonne 
of spent fuel. Methods of solidifying waste 
products are currently being developed 
throughout the world, including the UK 
and France. It is anticipated that the eventual 
form of the glassified waste from for example 
the UK process will be cylinders about 3m 
in length and about 0-5m in diameter. It 
has been estimated that about 72 000 of 
these cylinders would be sufficient to in- 
corporate the highly active waste arising 
from the production of 12 000 GW years 
(E) of energy which has been projected as 
the cumulative world nuclear power pro- 
gramme to the year 2000. Much work remains 
to be done to establish the best ultimate 
disposal route for this form of radioactive 
waste and as is widely known the three 
options being most actively pursued are 
disposal on the sea bed, beneath the sea 
bed or in stable geological formations on 
land. Although it will be many years before 
a final decision is taken it is clear that re- 
processing already offers the prospect of 
close control of highly active waste in rela- 
tively small engineered stores for the interim 
and an extremely safe method of ultimate 

In contrast the progress made towards 
developing a method for the ultimate disposal 
of entire spent fuel elements has been rela- 
tively slow. The waste management philoso- 
phy which has widespread support throughout 
the world is that total reliance should not be 
placed on a safe place of long term residence 
for radioactive wastes, it should in addition 
be converted into some form of chemically 
inert and physically stable material. Further- 
more getting the wastes into this form as 
soon as possible eases the problems of storage 
in the interim and allows sufficient time to 
thoroughly evaluate the various options for 
ultimate disposal. Although some work has 
been done in this direction for complete 
fuel elements it is by no means clear how 
suitable the final form of the radioactive 
waste will be for ultimate disposal. It also 
has to be recognised that the difficulties which 
have to be overcome in the large-scale solidifi- 

cation of separated fission products are 
exaggerated by the presence of plutonium in 
the unprocessed fuel. Furthermore, the scale of 
the operations required to undertake the 
solidification would be larger in the case of 
unprocessed fuel. Undoubtedly these are 
technological problems which could be over- 
come given sufficient resources and time, but 
at present the reprocessing option seems to 
present the environmentally more acceptable 
route for ultimate disposal. It also keeps 
future energy options open. It would be 
calamitous if at some future time when the 
need for recycled uranium and plutonium 
is established beyond any doubt it was found 
that these resources were buried in irre- 
trievable stores beyond the reach of future 

One other option remains — to stockpile 
spent fuel in retrievable stores, such as water- 
cooled ponds, and to postpone decisions 
about reprocessing until more information 
is available. It is recognised that this is an 
option which, in part, will have to be adopted 
in the short term because of the world wide 
shortage of reprocessing capacity. However, 
it would seem to be a disastrous policy to 
follow for the longer term without developing 
and installing further reprocessing capacity. 
There are undoubtedly technological prob- 
lems associated with the storage of large 
quantities of fuel in engineered facilities, 
and not all of them have been fully recognised 
because of the relatively limited experience 
of storing statistically significant quantities 
of spent fuel for long periods of time. It is 
not unreasonable to suppose that ways will 
be developed to overcome these problems 
but again it is a frightening prospect to 
imagine a time in the future when the need 
might arise to reprocess on a short timescale 
vast stocks of fuel for environmental or energy 
resource reasons with insufficient proven 
facilities available to undertake the enormous 
work load. Reprocessing plants currently 
being considered for construction (for example 
in the UK) will not be operational until the 
late 1980s. With lead times of this order 
of magnitude plans must be initiated now 
to progressively increase the reprocessing 
capacity which will be available in the 1990s 
when stocks of spent fuel will have increased 
substantially and plutonium will begin to 
be needed increasingly for use in fast reactors. 

Problems associated with 

The principal arguments put forward by 
those who either wish to postpone decisions 
on reprocessing or seek some other option 

37-189 O - 79 


relate to problems of proliferation of nuclear 
weapons and the terrorist threats and security 
implications associated with separating plu- 
tonium from spent fuel. 

Whilst neither of these arguments should 
be dismissed out of hand, and indeed the 
nuclear industry generally supports the 
efforts being devoted to considering how 
best to deal with them, it is important to 
keep the issues in perspective and not to 
allow emotional arguments to dominate. 
Because of the political uncertainties through- 
out the world it has to be recognised that 
there is a real risk that nuclear technology 
and materials may be misused for weapons 
purposes resulting in the spread of nuclear 
weapons capability to an increasing number 
of nations. This problem has to be tackled 
on two levels. There has to be a high degree 
of political co-operation in order to reduce 
the risk of proliferation and to remove 
the incentives for nations to even contemplate 
using nuclear weapons against each other. 
In parallel with this the organisations that 
supply nuclear fuel services have to organise 
themselves in a way in which they can 
continue to meet the world's demands for 
nuclear power efficiently and which at the 
same time is acceptable to their customers. 
However, the basic chemistry of reprocessing 
is widely known, a nation which is determined 
to undertake reprocessing, albeit on a 
laboratory scale, can put itself in a position 
to do so quite readily. The incentives for 
non-nuclear nations to do this have to be 
removed, and reference has already been 
made to the political aspects. At the industrial 
level those nations without substantial do- 
mestic resources of energy will wish to make 
full use of what uranium is available to them 
and this inevitably involves reprocessing. 
Consequently reprocessing organisations must 
organise themselves in a way which will 
effectively meet demands for uranium and 
plutonium recycle, whilst at the same time 
applying the most sophisticated control 
mechanisms to ensure that neither technology 
or nuclear materials can be readily diverted 
for illicit purposes. It is widely known that 
the IAEA is actively studying the feasibility 
of establishing Regional'Fuel Cycle Centres 
(RFCCs) and a system of International 
Plutonium Management (1PM). This may 
be the direction in which in the final analysis 
the world's suppliers of nuclear fuel services 
will have to move, and there is an obligation 
on individual organisations to play an 
important part in these deliberations. How- 
ever, in the end it has to be recognised that 
no matter how sophisticated a system of 

materials safeguarding is introduced its 
effectiveness depends on the full co-operation 
of suppliers and users alike. It is for this 
reason that industrial considerations cannot 
be divorced from the efforts required to 
engender full political co-operation between 

Terrorism and sabotage have to be recog- 
nised as a real threat to modern society. 
However, nuclear energy facilities and fissile 
materials are not unique in terms of the poten- 
tial danger they present in this context. 
Industrialised society in particular offers 
many potential targets for the determined 
terrorist to cause severe disruption and to 
endanger life. The ingenuity of the nuclear 
industry and national Governments will 
produce effective arrangements to contain 
this threat. In this respect the only relevant 
consideration from the point of view of 
reprocessing is the production and stock- 
piling of separated plutonium. It seems 
that there is every prospect, using a combi- 
nation of physical security measures and 
contriving to store the plutonium in an 
appropriate physical form, of keeping the 
terrorist threat well under control. 


Reprocessing is essential to the conservation 
of the world's energy resources and is an 
environmentally, and probably an econ- 
omically, more acceptable option to the 
"throw away" alternative. The associated 
problems of proliferation and terrorism 
although of the utmost importance can and 
will be solved. 



Harold M. Agnew 

It wasn't until India tested its , 
peaceful nuclear explosives that 
some of the nuclear powers official- 
ly expressed concern over the possi- 
bility of nuclear proliferation by 
other nations that had not by treaty 
or other mechanism foregone the 
development of nuclear explosions. 
Canada., the supplier of the reactor 
to India, was considered in no small 
way responsible for contributing to 
India's capability. 

What was ignored was the fact 
that since the end of World War II 
the United States in particular had 
been exporting what was and is the 
key to success in the nuclear field, 
namely knowledge. We have been 
training mathematicians, chemists, 
physicists, engineers in the disci- 
plines required to develop nuclear 
energy for electrical power or for 
peaceful explosives. I suspect that 
half of the key scientists involved in 
India's program received some part 
of their professional training in the 
United States. It is too late to stop 
this transfer of knowledge because a 
generation has been taught, and all 
the needed information has been 
published and distribute*! 

There is also no question in my 
'mind that many countries will in the 
future, and for the next 50 years, 
have no alternative but to exploit 
nuclear energy if their people are 

ever to realize a fraction of their 
expectations. Although the United 
States has been inefficient in its use 
of energy, and with available tech- 
nology can and will make do with 
less, the greater part of the rest of the 
world cannot utilize less energy but 
must utilize more. And that energy 
must be available at a reasonably 
low cost. 

The dilemma, of course, is that if 
developing nations are supplied the 
means to exploit nuclear energy, 
how can those nuclear supplier na- 
tions who provide the technology 
and supply the hardware hope to 
retard the proliferation of nuclear 
explosives and still provide the 
means of increasing the standard of 
living of these nations through need- 
ed nuclear energy? 

The procedure that we and the 
rest of the nuclear suppliers have 
been following is replete with loop- 
holes. The Non-Proliferation Treaty 
to me is a license to steal. If a nation 
signs, the nuclear suppliers are 
obliged to provide all requested as- 
sistance in the nuclear field, but a 
signator can withdraw from the trea- 
ty with no penalty and only 90 days 
notice. Safeguards of the Interna-' 
tional Atomic Energy Agency car 
prevent the covert diversion of plu- 
tonium from a reactor, but they dc 
not restrict overt utilization for any' 

Presently, when the nuclear sup- 

Agnew, Harold. Atoms for lease. In Bulletin j 
of the atomic scientists , May 1976, pp. 22- 
23. Copyright material re produce d with 
permission of copyright holder. 


pliers sell a reactor to a nation, they 
also sell the nuclear fuel and leave it 
up to the purchaser to solve the 
problem of disposing of the spent 
fuel elements which contain pluto- 
nium, residual uranium-235, and 
fission products. 

A reactor without fuel poses no 
threat to nuclear proliferation. If the 
supplier nation simply leased the 
fuel on the basis of its energy con- 
tent to the nation purchasing the 
reactor — instead of selling it — and if 
the fuel then reverted back to the 
supplier after it had served its pur- 
pose, the question would not arise 
as to what the receiving nation 
might do with the plutonium which 
resided in the spent fuel rods. 

The question of recycle need 
never arise as far as the buyer is 
concerned since the buying nation 
had contracted for energy only, not 
fuel elements. The plutonium, fis- 
sion products, etc., would belong to 
the supplier nation. The supplier na- 
tion would decide what was to be 
done, not the recipient nation. 

The multitude of fears and ques- 
tions which have arisen with regard 
to providing reactors to the Middle 
East, Korea, etc., need not exist. 
There would be no need for those 
nations ever to even consider having 
a recycling plant because they 
would own no fuel to recycle. 

Recently it has been reported that 
the nuclear suppliers have all agreed 
to certain controls with regard to 
their sales. However, if they would 
simply all agree never to sell the fuel 
but simply to lease it based upon 
delivering an amount of thermal en- 

ergy, a great deal of concern by the 
world could be alleviated. It would 
also make much simpler the concept 
of regional recycling and waste dis- 
posal centers. • 

Leasing is a common practice in 
the West; the large computer suppli- 
ers and copy machine manufactur- 
ers have been doing it for years. 

I find it hard to understand why 
this concept has been to date turned 
down by our State Department, the 
Arms Control and Disarmament 
Agency, and other key officials. 
Only Senator Stuart Symington has 
pursued this suggestion, and asked 
why we don't consider leasing and 
thereby control the eventual disposi- 
tion of the spent fuel with its plutoni- 
um content.* 

Such a procedure will not prevent 
major industrial nations from devel- 
oping a nuclear industry or from 
developing nuclear explosives, but it 
will preclude the government of an 
underdeveloped or small nation 
which has a legitimate need for nu- 
clear power from being tempted into 
developing nuclear explosives for 
whatever reasons they may at the 
time believe are relevant. It would 
also clear the air with regard to a 
nation's eventual intentions. If a na- 
tion refused to accept a nuclear 
power contract wherein the fuel was 
provided only through a lease agree- 
ment with title remaining with the 
supplier, then it clearly was interest- 
ed in more than clean cheap energy 
to benefit its people. D 

*Stuart Symington, "The Nuclear Explo- 
sion," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 23, 



by Steven J. Baker 

oince the oil crisis of 19 73-1974 there has 
been a marked increase in the export of nu- 
clear energy technology, equipment, and ma- 
terials. Agreements worth several billion 
dollars have been signed or are being ne- 
gotiated by Iran, Brazil, South Korea, Ar- 
gentina, and other developing nations. 1 Two 
aspects of this increase seem particularly sig- 
nificant: (1) the number of exporting na- 
tions has grown and, as a result, the field is 
increasingly competitive; and (2) for the 
first time, not only power reactors but the 
full range of nuclear fuel cycle facilities is 
being exported. These trends have serious 
implications for future proliferation of nu- 
clear weapons: while the political leverage 
of any single nuclear supplier is being re- 
duced through commercial competition, the 
nuclear weapons potential of several import- 
ing nations is growing rapidly. 

Not all nations with advanced nuclear 
industries — and, therefore, a nuclear weap- 
ons option — have chosen to exercise that 
option. West Germany and Japan, for ex- 
ample, have been restrained by complex do- 
mestic and international political consider- 
ations that have limited their incentives to 
go nuclear — e.g., domestic political opposi- 
tion and alliance ties with the United States. 

But in a dozen other nations, particular- 
ly in the Third World, the projected rapid 
growth of nuclear capability is less restrained 
by political considerations: domestic polit- 
ical opinion may be either uninformed or 
ineffective, or, as in the case of India, may- 
be positively disposed toward a national 
nuclear force. Few of these nations have the 
kind of political and military ties with the 

' See Norman Gall, "Atoms for Brazil, Dangers for 
Alir m this issue of FOREIGN POLICY. 

superpowers that would either resolve their 
national security problems or restrain them 
from trying to resolve these problems by 
going nuclear. Nor can the superpowers sat- 
isfy these nations' appetites for the prestige 
and international influence that are identi- 
fied with the possession of nuclear weapons. 
The danger is that economic competition 
among nuclear suppliers today could soon 
lead to a world in which 20 or more nations 
are but a few months from a nuclear weap- 
ons force. With the capability to go nuclear 
in place, the circumstances under which a 
government might see nuclear weapons as rel- 
evant to its interests might be difficult to pre- 
dict or to influence from the outside. 

Projections of the size of the international 
nuclear market differ. But it is generally 
agreed that dependence on nuclear energy 
will continue to expand, and capturing a 
share of the international nuclear market is 
a major economic goal of industrial nations. 
In the past, the United States dominated 
the world power reactor market. But today, 
American nuclear industries such as West- 
inghouse and GE must compete with former 
licensees of U.S. technology, such as Ger- 
many's Kraftwerk Union; with present li- 
censees, such as France's Framatome; and 
with other lines of reactor technology, such 
as that marketed by Atomic Energy of Can- 
ada, Ltd. Each of these is backed by strong 
government support. The Soviet Union has 
broken the U.S. monopoly on commercial 
supplies of enriched uranium fuels, and two 
multilateral European groups will enter the 
enrichment market by the early 1980s. And 
French industries are particularly eager to 
export reprocessing plants. 

Fears of future nuclear proliferation have 
motivated proposed restrictions on nuclear 
energy exports. But the following consider- 
ations should be kept in mind: the econom- 
ic interests of the industrial nations and of 
some of the largest, most politically pow- 
jerful industrial enterprises are at stake in the 
inuclear export field; and any restrictions 
imposed unilaterally by a single nation are 

Baker, Steven. Monopoly or Cartel? Vol.23, summer 
1976, pp. 155-201. Copyright material reproduced 
with permission of Foreign Policy #23 (Summer 1976) 
by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 


not likely to be effective since there are al- 
ternative sources of technology and fuels. 

The dangers inherent in nuclear energy 
exports were dramatically underscored by 
the Indian nuclear detonation in May 1974 
— an explosion that used plutonium pro- 
duced by a research reactor imported from 
Canada. Since then, several Third World 
nations have imported or are negotiating for 
the importation of fuel cycle facilities in ad- 
dition to reactors. Power reactors produce 
plutonium as a by-product of the generation 
of electricity; but fuel reprocessing plants or 
uranium enrichment plants are necessary to 
provide direct access to weapon-grade ma- 
terials and therefore afford a ready national 
nuclear weapons option. 

"Only cooperation among the nu- 
clear exporters of the industrial 
world can help to slow the spread 
of nuclear weapons capabilities to 
many more nations." 

Both Germany and France are exporting 
fuel cycle facilities. It is present U.S. policy 
not to allow the export of reprocessing or 
enrichment plants, but there is concern in 
the nuclear industry that the continued re- 
fusal to do so may put Americans at a com- 
mercial disadvantage. This concern is shared 
by some in the government. It has been ar- 
gued that Wesiinghouse would have received 
the contract for reactors that Brazil gave to 
Germany if the U.S. government had al- 
lowed the export of accompanying, repro- 
cessing and enrichment technologies. Restric- 
tions on U.S. exports adopted because of 
concern about nuclear proliferation may be 
difficult to maintain in the future as inter- 
national commercial competition increases. 

Only cooperation among the nuclear ex- 
porters of the industrial world can help to 
slow the spread of nuclear weapons capabil- 
ities to many more nations. There seems to 
be a fundamental agreement among the gov- 
ernments of the industrial nations that fur- 

ther nuclear proliferation is not in their 
interest. Most of the nuclear exporters are 
signatories of the Treaty on Non-Prolifer- 
ation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) with the 
notable exception of France which has prom- 
ised to act "as if" a member. The disagree- 
ment is over the means to be adopted to 
reduce the risks of proliferation, consistent 
with other domestic and international polit- 
ical and economic goals. 

These governments argue that nuclear ex- 
ports per se are not the problem. Nuclear 
energy is positively valued, and its interna- 
tional spread is seen as both inevitable and 
profitable to the nuclear exporting nations. 
The commonly accepted definition of the 
problem is competition among exporters of 
nuclear energy. It is this competition that 
erodes the political controls that the indus- 
trial nations would like to place on this 
technology, as each attempts to undercut the 
others in terms of safeguards and political 
conditions attached to exports in order not 
to lose lucrative export markets. 

These concerns led to the 1975 meetings 
in London of the major nuclear supplier na- 
tions — the United States, the Soviet Union, 
France, West Germany, Canada, the United 
Kingdom, and Japan — which apparently re- 
sulted in an agreement that International 
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards 
will be applied to all exports of nuclear fa- 
cilities. The exports, including fuel cycle 
facilities, will continue — but at least the 
safeguards under which they will be trans- 
ferred appear to have been removed from the 
arena of commercial competition. 

The agreement's focus on safeguards is 
typical of nonproliferation efforts to date, 
and is an example of their inadequacy. Safe- 
guards concern only the terms of transfer 
of nuclear technology; the risk of prolifer- 
ation stems less from the terms of transfer 
than from the transfer itself, from the fact 
that the technological capacity for going nu- 
clear is spreading. Safeguards are a political 
restraint on the uses of this technology — 
but political commitments are reversible in 


a way that technological attainment is not. 
Some nations may accept international safe- 
guards as a means of removing any political 
objections to their purchase of nuclear tech- 
nology, while reserving the sovereign right 
to renounce these safeguards in the future 
and use the technology acquired under them 
for nuclear weapons. 

More comprehensive measures that would 
limit the spread of these technologies run up 
against a fundamental dilemma. If the re- 
strictive measures are unilateral, they tend 
to be self-denying and thus unpopular with 
domestic economic groups and, given alter- 
native sources of technology, dubiously ef- 
fective. If the restrictive measures require 
international cooperation, they run counter 
to the established competitive drives that are 
the main source of the problem. 

Nonproliferation policies have been slow 
to come to grips with the reality of com- 
mercial nuclear energy. The problem is to 
balance the requirements of nonproliferation 
and nuclear energy exports, of arms control 
and commercial enterprise. Any solutions 
that fail to take the economic interests of 
the supplier nations into consideration are 
likely to be irrelevant. The task is to examine 
alternative international market structures 
in search of the one most suited to slowing 
the spread of nuclear weapons capabilities — 
a nuclear monopoly, free market, or cartel. 


The absence of competition in a monop- 
oly market makes it attractive to the mo- 
nopolist and unattractive to everyone else. 
The monopolist enjoys the kinds of eco- 
nomic advantages which most readily trans- 
late into political leverage. Immediately af- 
ter World War II, the United States had a 
monopoly on nuclear weapons and sought 
to maintain it. To preserve this weapons 
monopoly, the United States adopted a 
policy of rigid nuclear secrecy which inhibit- 
ed the development of the American nuclear 
energy industry. But a genuine nuclear en- 
ergy monopoly was never really possible. 

Other nations established nuclear research 
programs immediately after the war — no- 
tably Great Britain. France, Canada and the 
Soviet Union. While the British and French 
programs were primarily weapons-oriented, 
the British had pressing electric power needs. 
At an early date, the British government 
made a commitment to pursue commercially 
a nuclear power reactor, which gave the 
British nuclear industry an apparent lead 
over other nations by the early 1950s. The 
British took advantage of this lead by adopt- 
ing an aggressive nuclear export policy. 

International competition with the Brit- 
ish was used by the American nuclear in- 
dustry and its congressional supporters to 
attack the policy of nuclear secrecy and to 
promote commercial nuclear power. These 
pressures, combined with the military's de- 
sire to facilitate inter-allied nuclear weapons 
planning and the scientific community's 
pressures for freer availability of technical 
data, resulted in the progressive liberal- 
ization of America's nuclear legislation, es- 
pecially in 1954 and 19 58, accompanied by 
a major American nuclear export campaign. 

A nuclear energy monopoly was never 
really a policy option for the United States. 
Indeed, the need to respond to international 
competition was at the heart of the "Atoms 
for Peace" policy launched in 1953. But 
there was an arms control objective to this 
approach in addition to the commercial one. 
American exports of reactors, fuels, and 
technology were designed to spread U.S. 
control over nuclear energy abroad, as well 
as to open up new markets for American 
industry. Nuclear exports were the basis for 
a series of bilateral and international inspec- 
tion systems through which the U.S. gov- 
ernment hoped to control other nations' 
military uses of nuclear technology. Under 
these inspection systems the market for pow- 
er reactors in Western Europe and Japan 
was opened up, and nuclear research reac- 
tors were exported to several Third World 

There was an inherent contradiction in 


these policies. In order to exercise political 
control, the United States had to maintain 
a monopoly of the commercial supplies of 
enriched uranium fuels. This monopoly was 
successfully used to hamper the progress of 
nuclear programs which it did not ap- 
prove of, for example the French nuclear 
weapons program and the Italian naval nu- 
clear propulsion program. But over the de- 
cade of the 1960s, the commercialization of 
nuclear energy based on the economically 
advantageous American light-water reactor 
(LWR) increased other nations' dependence 
on America's enriched uranium fuel supplies. 
And as the market for enriched uranium 
grew, economic incentives were added to po- 
litical ones to break the American fuel mon- 
opoly. Technological innovation, like the 
centrifuge process for enriching uranium, 
made alternatives to U.S. supplies feasible by 
the end of the 1960s. In one sense, the suc- 
cess of America's commercial promotion of 
the enriched uranium-fueled LWR under- 
mined its political control over nuclear en- 
ergy abroad. 

Domestically, there was an analogous pro- 
gression. As the demand projections for en- 
riched uranium grew in the late 1960s, 
American private industries began to covet 
the Atomic Energy Commission's (AEC) en- 
richment monopoly. With the advent of the 
Nixon administration, the "privatization" 
of the American enrichment sector promised 
to remove the government from active in- 
volvement in fuel supplies. Foreign custo- 
mers of the AEC saw impending privatiza- 
tion and/or a lengthy American debate 
over government versus private enrichment 
as one more reason to seek alternatives to 
U.S. -supplied uranium. 

An American uranium enrichment mo- 
nopoly is no longer possible. Competitors like 
the Soviet Union and the French-sponsored 
Eurodif group rely on the expensive but 
technically proven gaseous diffusion technol- 
ogy. Another competitor, the British-Dutch- 
German Urenco consortium, relies on the 
potentially attractive but technically and 

economically unproven centrifuge process. 
Both the Eurodif and Urenco groups have 
reportedly considered exporting their plants 
to other nations. Still other competitors like 
South Africa and the plant German com- 
panies propose to sell to Brazil will use pro- 
cesses which are economically unproven and 
technically novel. The only certainty is that 
competition, not monopoly, is the order of 
the day in the enrichment field. 

There was perhaps one last opportunity 
to maintain a monopoly on enriched urani- 
um supplies. During the negotiations of the 
NPT, it was proposed that the nuclear weap- 
ons states (NWS) assume the responsibility 
of guaranteeing supplies of enriched urani- 
um to nonnudear weapons states (NNWS) 
parties to the treaty on a noncommercial ba- 
sis. If accepted, this proposal would have 
gone far to redress the imbalance of obliga- 
tions that are a distinctive feature of the 
NPT. And these guarantees might eventually 
have taken the form of an international en- 
riched uranium monopoly under the IAEA, 
giving it the status of a fuel supplier that it 
was originally intended to have. But the in- 
roads of commercialization were already too 
great: the NWS were unwilling to accept the 
political obligation to compensate the NNWS, 
especially since this would have involved eco- 
nomic commitments in a field of growing 
international competition. Still, the idea of 
an international arrangement to fulfill de- 
mands for enriched uranium fuels short of 
the unrestricted proliferation of national en- 
richment facilities warrants careful consider- 
ation, especially as the negative consequences 
of international competition in this field be- 
come more apparent. 

Free Market 

The theoretical advantages of a free mar- 
ket in terms of rational utilization of re- 
sources and low competitive price;, are con- 
siderable. But the practical advantages of 
government intervention have proved more 
attractive, particularly in the international 
market: the international division of labor 


that would theoretically result from the op- 
eration of a free market would be political- 
ly intolerable in a world of sovereign, com- 
peting nation-states. 

A free market in nuclear energy is even 
more difficult to conceive of than in other 
sectors. Nuclear technology, along with oth- 
er advanced technologies like aerospace and 
computers, has become a hallmark of na- 
tional achievement. Its ambivalent civil/mil- 
itary applications make it attractive to dis- 
parate political and bureaucratic groups. 
Government support for expanding nuclear 
technology capabilities is almost universal. 

"Competition ... to supply nuclear 
energy to the Third World has be- 
gun to mirror competition in con- 
ventional arms sales — with even 
more disastrous implications." 

Nuclear energy is increasingly important 
in furthering national independence. It 
promises an autonomous source of energy 
for those industrial countries with uranium 
ore deposits, and diversified energy sources 
for Third World countries. Considerations 
of this kind have made nuclear energy too 
politically important to be left to the oper- 
ation of abstract "market forces." Govern- 
ment intervention to promote development 
of nuclear energy has taken various forms — 
for example, appropriations for research and 
development, subsidized fuel services, and 
advantageous financing for reactor exports. 

Government-backed international compe- 
tition — built-in subsidies and government 
financial packages for exports — probably 
makes nuclear energy more competitive with 
alternative energy sources than it would 
otherwise be. But more important is the fact 
that this competition makes it more difficult 
to exert political controls over the uses to 
which the exported nuclear technology may 
eventually be put. Because the explosion of 
India's first nuclear device (May 18, 1974) 
used plutonium produced in a research re- 

actor supplied by Canada under a "peaceful 
uses" agreement, Canada suspended nuclear 
assistance to India. But the United States 
did not suspend its fuel supplies to the 
American exported Tarapur power reactors, 
and thus the problem was posed — in this 
case for Canada — of whether one nation 
can afford to set more stringent controls on 
its technology transfers than other nations. 

American policy has been rather ambiva- 
lent. In 1974, while pressuring Japan to 
ratify the NPT and hinting at an interrup- 
tion of enriched uranium fuel supplies if it 
failed to do so, the United States offered 
nuclear reactors and fuel to Egypt and Israel 
without requiring ratification of the NPT as 
a precondition. The justifications for these 
offers betrayed the inconsistency of the U.S. 
position. On the one hand, it was argued 
that if we didn't do it, someone else would 
— someone with less stringent safeguards. 
Then it was argued that American technol- 
ogy transfers would increase U.S. influence 
over the uses to which such technology 
might be put. But the existence of alter- 
native nuclear technology suppliers makes it 
unlikely that any unilateral American pres- 
sures would be very effective. If the United 
States didn't cut off fuel supplies to India 
when it detonated a peaceful nuclear ex- 
plosive (PNE) with the aid of Canadian 
technology, would the United States cut off 
fuel supplies to Iran if it were to produce 
a PNE with the aid of German or French 
technology? The political and economic 
costs of unilateral sanctions in such cases 
make the supplier hostage to the client rath- 
er than vice versa. Competition among the 
United States, the Soviet Union, France, 
West Germany, Canada, et al. to supply 
nuclear energy to the Third World has be- 
gun to mirror competition in conventional 
arms sales — with even more disastrous im- 

The principle objection to the operation 
of market forces in nuclear technology is 
that they have the effect of driving political 
controls over nuclear technology exports 


down to the level of the lowest common 
denominator. Indeed, this tendency may be 
perversely reinforced by the obligation un- 
der the NPT's Article IV to facilitate "the 
fullest possible exchange" of peaceful nu- 
clear technology. Having accepted safeguards 
under the NPT, a nation can plausibly de- 
mand the right to purchase from abroad 
any commercially relevant nuclear technol- 
ogy without further restrictions in a kind 
of free market of NPT signatories. It is po- 
litically difficult for the United States to 
require the multinationalization of fuel re- 
processing facilities when faced with requests 
from NPT members like Iran for the pur- 
chase of national reprocessing facilities — no 
matter what suspicions the United States 
may harbor about Iran's future nuclear as- 

From a nonproliferation standpoint, a 
theoretical case might be made for a genuine 
free market in nuclear technology, undis- 
torted by political considerations. Without 
government support, nuclear energy might 
be less economically attractive, both in the 
industrial countries and in the Third World. 
"Decontrolling" nuclear energy might have 
the effect of slowing its spread, reducing the 
economic rationale underlying nuclear pro- 
grams. But in practice, the choice is not be- 
tween a free market and one distorted by 
political considerations, but rather among 
variants of distorted markets. The question 
is what kinds of political distortions should 
be allowed to shape the international nu- 
clear market? 


A cartel is an economic arrangement 
whereby a small number of producers agree 
to limit competition among themselves in 
order to keep their economic returns both 
high and steady. Cartels can be expected to 
work best when the members dominate the 
production of a commodity in a particular 
market, when prices are high, and when the 
market is fairly stable — and then only as 
long as each is content with his share of 

the market. Given these conditions, it is not 
surprising that cartels have not usually been 
very long-lived. But the success of the Or- 
ganization of Petroleum Exporting Coun- 
tries (OPEC) has inspired similar attempts 
in commodities as various as bauxite and 
bananas — why not, then, a nuclear cartel? 

In principle, the nuclear market is nearly 
ideal for cartelization: five or six nations 
dominate the international nuclear market; 
prices of nuclear energy hardware and fuels 
are high and rising; and the size of the 
market is projected to expand steadily. As 
in any cartel, market shares would be a sen- 
sitive issue, especially if the United States 
continued to predominate. But there is no 
reason in principle why a cartel could not es- 
tablish a loose international framework that 
would permit limited competition among 
the industrial nations without the political 
liabilities of the present competition. 

The major nuclear supplier nations would 
form a consortium to provide enrichment 
and reprocessing services on a commercial 
basis. To preserve the commercial viability 
of their operation, they would refuse to ex- 
port enrichment and reprocessing plants or 
technology. In this way, the cause of non- 
proliferation would be served by slowing 
the spread of weapons-relevant technologies; 
the cartel members' economic interests would 
be realized through its commercial oper- 
ations; and the nuclear fuel needs of other 
nations would be met without their having 
to make national investments in a capital- 
intensive, technologically complex nuclear 
fuel cycle. International commercial compe- 
tition would be limited to reactor exports 
where, in any event, profits seem surest. 

The cartel's principle objective, and main 
attraction for those concerned about the in- 
creased risk of proliferation, would be slow- 
ing the international spread of fuel cycle 
facilities. But for the governments and in- 
dustries involved, a cartel would serve to 
reduce the economic uncertainty of invest- 
ments in capital-intensive nuclear fuel fa- 
cilities. The high capital costs of enrichment 


plants and the uncertainties attached to 
their commercial operation have made it de- 
sirable to have international financing even 
when such ventures are based on a single 
nation's technology as in the case of the 
French-sponsored Eurodif group or the pro- 
posed American private plant. While com- 
petition is increasing, there are as yet only 
four commercial enrichment ventures in ex- 
istence — those of the United States, the So- 
viet Union, and the two European groups 
— with the possibility of another two or 
three entrants into the market in the next 
several years. The impact of technological 
innovations like centrifuge enrichment and 
laser separation have yet to be fully felt. 
Cooperation in this field must begin now 
before the number of enrichment ventures is 
so great that no effective international co- 
operation or control will be possible. 

Plutonium reprocessing is both less tech- 
nically complex and less capital intensive: 
outside of the nuclear weapons states, Ar- 
gentina, Belgium, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, 
and West Germany presently have experi- 
mental or small-scale reprocessing facilities, 
and several others could probably have them 
within five years with an investment of sev- 
eral million dollars. These considerations 
make reprocessing a less promising point of 
departure for a nuclear fuel cartel. Only the 
aggregation of uranium enrichment with 
fuel reprocessing is likely to give the cartel 
enough control over the flow of nuclear ma- 
terials to reduce the threat of proliferation. 
By controlling the "front-end" of the fuel 
cycle — uranium enrichment — the "back- 
end" production of plutonium may also be 
brought under control. 

The relations between the cartel and ore 
suppliers might be a source of potential dif- 
ficulty, especially where ore suppliers are 
Third World countries. But probable cartel 
members like the United States and Can- 
ada are also major sources of uranium ores, 
and their cooperation should facilitate the 
coordination of policies with other major 
ore suppliers like Australia and South Af- 

rica which could eventually become full 
members of the group, completing a kind 
of vertical integration of the nuclear fuel 

A nuclear fuel cartel would be inhibited 
from abusing its power for at least two rea- 
sons. If it were to manipulate the terms of 
supply, it would reduce the economic vi- 
ability and political acceptability of reac- 
tors based on enriched uranium fuels. This 
would not be in the interest of cartel mem- 
bers that are also LWR exporters. Further- 
more, cartel abuses would lead to the emer- 
gence of independent enrichment and re- 
processing ventures. (This possibility sets a 
technology-based cartel apart from a natural 
resource-based cartel like OPEC.) 

The clients' response to the formation of 
a cartel would largely depend on the terms 
the cartel members offered for supplies of 
enriched uranium fuels. If the cartel offered 
long-term supplies at low prices, there would 
be little economic incentive to develop na- 
tional enrichment facilities — and the cartel 
would be more acceptable politically, and 
less likely to trigger retaliatory responses in 
other fields. But if the cartel behaved ar- 
bitrarily, and set its prices too high or made 
its terms too unattractive, then the incen- 
tives to proceed with national enrichment 
plants would increase, dependence upon the 
cartel would be politically intolerable, and 
retaliatory moves might be expected. 

Even if the economic benefits of a cartel 
were conceded, political objections would 
remain, and protests from the Third World 
and from smaller industrial nations would 
be vigorous. The principle danger in forming 
a nuclear fuel cartel is that it might provide 
a political incentive for independent national 
nuclear fuel cycle facilities where there was 
little incentive before — despite the obvious 
economic disadvantages of this course. On 
balance, however, this danger seems less 
compelling than the alternative: if econom- 
ic incentives continue to exist for the spread 
of these fuel facilities, political incentives to 
use them for weapons purposes may grow — 


the kind of danger that a nuclear fuel cartel 
is intended to lessen. 

The fact that cartels exercise political as 
well as economic power — or better, exercise 
the latter as a tool of the former — is their 
principal attraction. OPEC's use of oil as a 
weapon to pressure clients into support of 
the Arab cause is an example of a cartel's 
political potential. What may be objection- 
able is not the cartel itself, but the specific 
political purposes for which it may be used. 

Nonproliferation seems sufficiently worthy 
as a political objective to warrant consid- 
eration of this kind of cartel. It would rep- 
resent a compromise between the extremes 
of unilateralism and international coopera- 
tion, of commercial enterprise and political 
restriction. Present policies have the effect 
of dividing the nuclear exporters among 
themselves as well as creating resentment 
among clients toward the suppliers. American 
pressures on South Korea and France, which 
resulted in the cancellation of a proposed 
reprocessing plant sale, is an example. A 
cartel might at least reduce the divisions 
among nuclear exporters and slow the spread 
of nuclear weapons capabilities (especially 
in the Third World). 

Just sketching the bare outlines of the 
kinds of things a cartel might do raises al- 
most as many problems as it proposes to 
solve. The heart of the proposal is to pro- 
hibit the export of enrichment and repro- 
cessing facilities and to reduce the economic 
incentives for the development of national 
fuel cycle capabilities. The hope is not to 
prevent proliferation, but to make national 
nuclear weapons options more difficult tech- 
nically and more costly, and therefore to 
retard their development. 

The London Conferences 

The London suppliers conferences of 
1975 are significant for two reasons: first 
for the fact that they took place and result- 
ed in an agreement; and second for the fact 
that the agreement reached was so limited. 

For the first time, the problem of stop- 

ping the spread of nuclear weapons was ta- 
ken out of the context of nuclear weapons 
states versus nonnudear weapons states, and 
placed instead in the context of relations 
among advanced industrial nations. The 
suppliers have demonstrated an awareness 
of the proliferation dangers inherent in their 
export activities, and the agreement to ap- 
ply IAEA safeguards to exports is evidence 
of a limited willingness to modify national 
policies to reduce those dangers. 

Even this limited degree of cooperation 
among suppliers has led critics to character- 
ize the London group as a nuclear cartel. 
Unfortunately, the substance of the agree- 
ment suggests that this is far from true. The 
safeguards and physical security aspects of 
the agreement do not go beyond present 
American export policies. The extension of 
safeguards to replicated facilities and ex- 
ports of technology to third parties are an 
advance — but these measures would not be 
necessary if suppliers would agree to require 
NPT adherence as a precondition to receiving 
nuclear exports. Nor were the suppliers pre- 
pared to require that the entire peaceful 
activities of recipient nations be submitted 
to IAEA inspections. Secretary of State Kis- 
singer is reluctant even to characterize these 
"consultations" as an agreement, preferring 
to speak in terms of an understanding to 
pursue parallel policies. This kind of under- 
standing is far short of the coherent, coor- 
dinated policy of a cartel. Present policies 
may leave the nuclear suppliers with all of 
the political disadvantages of a cartel, but 
with none of the political benefits. 

Consultations among suppliers will con- 
tinue, and the periodic reconvening of the 
London group is expected. In the meantime, 
the suppliers are pledged to exercise what 
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency 
Director Ikle terms "restraint" in the export 
of sensitive fuel cycle facilities. But negotia- 
tions and diplomatic maneuvers over trou- 
blesome exports — like the sale of a French 
reprocessing plant to Pakistan — can also be 
expected to continue. There are two direc- 


tions that further suppliers' negotiations may 
take, one which would make the suppliers' 
agreement more substantive and the other 
that would expand the number of parties 
to the agreement. It remains to be seen 
whether these are alternative or complemen- 
tary directions. 

An American policy goal will be to gain 
the supplier nations' support for the idea of 
a multinational regional nuclear fuel center 
(MRNFC) as an alternative to the prolifer- 
ation of national fuel facilities. Kissinger 
endorsed the idea before the U.N. General 
Assembly in September 1975, and it is un- 
der study in the IAEA and elsewhere. 

While the concept is appealing and de- 
serves serious consideration, there are some 
obvious problems. The proposals to date do 
not seem to be sensitive enough to the com- 
mercial aspects of the international nuclear 
trade. Multinational regional centers are 
likely to be more economically efficient than 
national alternatives, but are they going to 
be more profitable? If they are operated in 
the economic interest of the supplier na- 
tions, their political acceptability among po- 
tential customers declines. If they operate as 
a kind of international nonprofit public 
utility, their economic appeal for the sup- 
plier nations — upon whose technologies they 
must be built — is reduced. 

The regional concept is superficially at- 
tractive but could be a source of major polit- 
ical difficulties. Since regional political rival- 
ries are the principal obstacle to international 
cooperation, it would seem better to think 
in terms of centers serving a geographically 
unrestricted market. But whatever the mar- 
ket, a MRNFC could result in the spread of 
sensitive fuel cycle technologies to a larger 
number of nations than would otherwise 
acquire them. It would be difficult, though 
not impossible, to restrict access to technol- 
ogy to only some participants in such a mul- 
tinational arrangement. 

For their ultimate success, both a cartel 
and a MRNFC would depend on the cooper- 
ation of the nuclear suppliers to restrict nu- 

clear fuel facility exports. For example, if a 
MRNFC were established based on American 
technology, and the French and Germans 
continued to export fuel facilities to indi- 
vidual nations, the result from the stand- 
point of potential weapons proliferation 
would be an even wider spread of these tech- 
nologies around the world. But, unlike a 
nuclear fuel suppliers cartel, a MRNFC would 
require cooperation not only among sup- 
pliers, but between suppliers and recipient 
nations, as well as among the nations of 
a given region — all additional conditions 
which make the realization of a MRNFC 

Another direction in which suppliers' co- 
operation is expected to move is toward ex- 
tending the agreement to other minor and 
potential nuclear exporters. The Nether- 
lands, Belgium, Italy, East Germany, Po- 
land, and Sweden have been mentioned as 
potential participants. Eventually, the broad- 
est participation of supplier nations would 
seem to be both desirable and necessary in 
a nonproliferation agreement. But there is a 
danger that the expansion of participation 
now could be at the expense of reaching a 
more substantive agreement. The inclusion 
of minor nuclear exporters will not increase 
the complementarity of the groups' inter- 
ests. For example, it is not clear that these 
nations will favor the establishment of 
a MRNFC if it should inhibit the develop- 
ment of national facilities or imply restric- 
tions on the international sharing of technol- 
ogy from which these kinds of nations can 
most expect to benefit. 

The extraordinary sensitivity of this kind 
of international cooperation — as evidenced 
by the unusual degree of secrecy with which 
the London meetings were conducted — is 
in part the result of fears about their impact 
on North-South relations. A suppliers' agree- 
ment would lend credence to charges of dis- 
crimination against the developing nations. 
But this sensitivity should not be allowed 
to inhibit the evolution of suppliers' co- 
operation. To the extent that such cooper- 


ation is politically discriminatory, it is in 
the pursuit of a goal — nonproliferation — 
that seems to justify it. Although such co- 
operation may be economically motivated, 
the balance of advantages does not unequiv- 
ocally favor the suppliers (encouraging the 
Third World to invest in fuel cycle facil- 
ities does more to improve the suppliers' 
balance of payments than it does to improve 
the economic and technical development of 
recipient nations) . In any event, there is no 
reason to adopt this pattern of cooperation 
as a model to be followed on all interna- 
tional issues. 

To achieve international cooperation to 
limit the spread of nuclear weapons capa- 
bilities, a range of national interests must be 
appealed to. There is little recent evidence 
of a willingness to sacrifice national eco- 

nomic interests to international political 
goals. The nuclear suppliers have reached a 
consensus on safeguards. This consensus 
should now be built upon to remove fuel fa- 
cility exports from international commerce. 
Nuclear energy will continue to spread 
to more nations. Competition among nu- 
clear suppliers will probably hasten this 
spread. But some patterns of competition 
are more likely to lead to the proliferation 
of nuclear weapons than others. The time 
is past when nonproliferation policies that 
ignore national economic interests of nuclear 
suppliers have much chance of success. But 
there may still be time for nonproliferation 
measures that limit competition in order to 
serve the suppliers' common economic and 
political interests. 


by The world's nuclear-power reac- 

tors are producing about 20 000 kg 
Dr . Frank f plutonium a year. About one- 

Barnaby third of this plutonium is being 

produced in 20 countries that have 
not yet acquired nuclear weapons. 
By 1985 it is likely that 28 countries that do not now have 
nuclear weapons will be producing about 45 000 kg of 
plutonium a year. 

The world has so far accumulated about 100 000 kg of 
plutonium from peaceful nuclear programmes. By 1982 
about 300 000 kg will probably have been accumulated, and 
by 1985 this figure will probably have increased to nearly 
500 000 kg. In the early 1980s about 40 per cent of the 
world's plutonium will be owned by countries other than 
the known nuclear-weapon powers — the USA, the USSR, 
the UK, France and China. 

Plutonium for the most efficient nuclear weapons must 
be nearly pure plutonium-2v39. But the plutonium produced 
in nuclear-power reactors, when operated to produce elec- 
tricity in the most economical way, contains a relatively 
high proportion of the isotope plutonium-240. This "con- 
taminated" plutonium could nevertheless be used for 
effective nuclear weapons. "Weapons-grade" plutonium 
(over 90 per cent plutonium-239) can be obtained from a 
typical nuclear-power reactor by limiting the burn-up of 
the uranium fuel — that is, the amount of energy released 
by the fuel. The fuel elements would have to be removed 
from the reactor after a few weeks instead of the normal 
period, for most reactor types, of three to four years. 

The complete detonation of a kilogramme of plutonium 
(about the size of a golf ball) would produce an explosion 
equivalent to about 20 000 tons of chemical explosive. Even 
an extremely crude device using 10 kg of plutonium, and 
exploding with an efficiency of only 1 per cent, would 
produce an explosion equivalent to about 2000 tons of 
TNT. An explosion of this size would shatter a small city. 
The world's commercial plutonium is theoretically capable 
of producing unimaginable destruction. 

Most commercial plutonium is still in the reactor fuel 
elemen ts in which it was produced. Many believe that it 

Barnaby, Frank. Nuclear power and prolif- 
eration. In New Scientist , July 2, 1977 , 
pp. 168-170. Copyright material repro- 
duced with permission of copyright holder 


should stay there and that no further plutonium should be 
removed from reactor fuel elements. This would help to 
slow down the rate at which new countries acquire nuclear 
weapons. It would also make less likely the theft of 
plutonium by terrorist or criminal groups intent on pro- 
ducing, or threatening to produce, nuclear explosives. 

Reactor fuel elements are essentially self-protecting; 
they are so radioactive that handling them without very 
heavy and specialised equipment would be a suicidal task. 
The theft of fuel elements can be virtually discounted. 

The current worldwide operational capacity for repro- 
cessing (removing the plutonium from) highly irradiated 
reactor fuel on a commercial scale is small and restricted 
to France, India, the UK, and the USSR (see table). The 
construction of a Japanese reprocessing plant will soon be 
completed. An American plant — designed to handle about 
1500 tons of spent reactor fuel a year, equal to the fuel 
from 50 typical commercial nuclear-power reactors — has 
been constructed at Barnwell, South Carolina. But 
President Carter has decided to defer indefinitely the 
commercial reprocessing of the plutonium produced in US 
nuclear-power reactors. (The USA currently operates 60 
nuclear-power reactors, with outputs over 20 million watts 
electrical, out of a world total of 180 reactors.) If the 
decision had been taken to operate the plant, Barnwell 
would have been the first full-scale commercial reprocess- 
ing facility for uranium oxide, as opposed to uranium 
metal, fuels. 

Routes to nuclear weapons 

The group of nuclear scientists and engineers which 
evolves with a nuclear-power programme often wields 
considerable political influence. Sooner or later at least a 
part of this group may, for prestige or the satisfaction of 
scientific curiosity, want to experiment with nuclear explo- 
sives and will therefore attempt to persuade the politicians 
of the desirability of developing them. The nuclear com- 
munity may argue, sincerely, that the applications it has 
in mind for nuclear explosives are "peaceful". In due 
course the political leaders may, perhaps for reasons of 
their own, agree to the demands for a nuclear explosion. 

The nuclear scientists may well push their case by 
arguing that it would be foolish, if not downright 
"irresponsible", not to prepare plans in case the coun- 
try's future "security" requires the rapid manufacture of 
nuclear weapons. Once the designs are ready pressures are 
likely to grow for a nuclear test explosion. If carried out 
this may be euphemistically described as "peaceful". 

In one or other of these ways, or a mixture of them, 
countries may, so to speak, drift towards the acquisition 
of nuclear weapons. The more hurdles there are, the less 
probable is it that the situation will occur. Lack of access 
to a reprocessing plant is, therefore, likely to reduce con- 


siderably the chance of these sorts of nuclear prolifera- 
tion. It is, for example, very doubtful that India would 
have exploded a nuclear device if it had had to make 
special arrangements for the reprocessing of the plutonium 
used in its device. 

Existing and planned liquid-metal fast breeder 
power reactors < J > (output > 20MWe < b) ) 




Year of 

name of reactor 





Phenix (Marcoule) 

In operation 

230 MWe 


Super Phenix (Creys- 


1 200 MWe 




CFBR-I (not selected) 


1 200 MWe 


CFBR-2 (not selected) 


1 200 MWe 

mid- 1930s 

Germany, FR 

SNR-I (Kalkar) 


290 MWe 




1 200 MWe 



Monju (Monju) 


300 MWe 



PFR (Dounreay) 

In operation 

250 MWe 


CFR (not selected) 


1 300 MWe 



BN-350 (Shevchenko) 

In operation 

350 MWe 


BN-600 (Beloyarsk) 


600 MWe 


BN-1500 (not selected) 


1 500 MWe 


(*) President Carter announced in April 1977 that the US would 
restructure its breeder programme to give priority to alternative 
breeder designs and, to defer the date when breeder reactors would 
be put Into commercial use, he cancelled the prototype breeder 
(350 MWe) at Oak Ridge). 
( b ) Million watts of electricity. 

Membership of the Non-Proliferation Treaty is also a 
hurdle. But some of the countries most likely to take these 
routes to nuclear explosives are not members of the 
Treaty. For example, a number of Third World countries — 
like Argentina, Brazil and India— argue strongly that 
peaceful nuclear explosions could have important applica- 
tions in developing countries. This was, in fact, the main 
reason given by some of these countries for not joining the 

If it is believed that there is a grave and imminent threat 
to the country's security the nuclear community, the politi- 
cians and the military leaders may agree to go directly for 
nuclear weapons. If only a modest nuclear force were re- 
quired, a relatively small reactor could be purchased 
clandestinely for the specific purpose of producing pluto-. 

37-189 O - 79 


hium for military purposes. The reprocessing of the fuel 
elements could also be done secretly and on a small scale. 
Israel, for example, may have produced nuclear weapons 
in such a way. The performance of a given nuclear-weapon 
design could easily be simulated on a computer and so a_ 
test of the device would not be necessary. 

Because of the possibility of small-scale production it 
will be very difficult to prevent (or even detect) the further 
proliferation of nuclear weapons. Even now we do not 
know for certain which countries have these weapons. 

While the leaders of the present nuclear-weapon powers 
continue to behave as if they believed that nuclear 
weapons have a high political and military value, it is 
almost inevitable that others will acquire the same per- 
ceptions. The best way of de-emphasising the importance 
of nuclear weapons is to get rid of them. But until a way 
is found of achieving nuclear disarmament we should buy 
time and at least attempt to slow down the rate at which 
new countries will acquire nuclear weapons. 

A lack of commercial reprocessing will not necessarily 
prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. .But a mora- 
torium on the reprocessing of nuclear fuel is an essential 
step if proliferation is to be minimised. 

Nuclear fuel reprocessing capabilities 

Operational capabilities, commercial scale W 



Type of fuel 

Design capacity 
Tons of 


La Hague 

Metal and U0 2 
low enrichment 



Metal, low 



Trombay W 

Metal and UO : 
low enrichment 




Metal, low 




Not known 

Not known 


Nuclear fuel reprocessing capabilities 

Planned capabilities, commercial scale 



Type of 


Design capacity 



Tons of 


La Hague 

U0 2 low 



Start-up at 60 in 
1976. increasing to 
800 by 1980, by 
modification to 
existing plant at 
La Hague 



U0 2 low 





Metal and 
U0 2 low 



uo 2 

50 in 1982 
increasing to 125 


Tokai Mura 

U0 2 low 



40 in 1978 
increasing to 210 



U0 2 low 



Projected capability, small-scale plants, and 
development projects 



Type of fuel 



UOt low 

Small-scale (perhaps 


5 kg/day), to be 
supplied by West 


La Hague 

Breeder (U-Pu 

Pilot plant, 


20 kg/day 

FR Germany 

WAK, Karlsruhe 

Breeder, U0 2 

200 kg/day pilot 

. - 

plant, operating 

KFA, Julich 


2 kg/day pilot 
plant, scheduled 
to start 1 977 





Uranium oxide 

facility, currently 





U0 2 and metal 

Pilot, plant, in 





Pilot plant, in 




Continued on next page 


Projected capability, small-scale plants, and 
development projects 





Type of fuel Comment 




Advanced fuels, 
breeder, etc. 

80-600 tons/yr, 

under construction 

Supplied by 


Pilot plant, in 


(a) The only US commercial plant that has ever been in operation was 
closed down in 1972. A plant has been completed in Barnwell County. 
SC, with a capacity for reprocessing 1500 tons of oxide fuel per year. 
US policy is not to operate the Barnwell plant. 

Consideration is being given to restarting the Eurochemic-Mol (shut 
down 1974) under Belgian ownership and to expand its capacity to 
300 tons of uranium/year (UO : low enrichment). 

(b) Will be modified and expanded to handle spent fuel from a 100- 
MWe research reactor under contruction at Trombay. 

(c) Year of availability and design capacity undecided 
Source: World Armaments and Disarmament, SIPRI Yearbook 1977 
(Stockholm, Almqvist & Wiksell, 1977, Stockholm International 
Peace Research Institute). 

World plutonium production 

(based on the latest figures for total world nuclear electricity-generating 


Year Total world 

Approx. annual 






capacity (GWe)* 



production (tons) 

stock (tons) 





































* GWe= 109 (watts of electricity 


Limiting the nuclear age 

The main argument for reprocessing is to provide fuel 
for future breeder reactors. But if breeder reactors are 
developed to a commercially viable stage, the difficulty of 
controlling plutonium will be considerably greater. The 
elements from the breeder blanket, in which plutonium is 
produced from uranium-238, will typically contain pluto- 
nium in which the concentration of plutonium-238 exceeds 
95 per cent. This would be excellent material for atomic 
bombs. The plutonium produced in the cores of the first 
breeders will normally contain about 70 per cent of pluto- 
nium-239. But second and subsequent generations of 
breeders may actually be fuelled with plutonium of 
weapons grade. 

A moratorium on the further construction of breeder 
reactors until the need for them is unambiguously demon- 
strated is another essential step to minimise the spread 
of nuclear weapons. A convincing case for breeder reactors 
has yet to be made. 

Few doubt that a world of many nuclear-weapon powers 
would be a very dangerous place. The danger of a nuclear 
world war by accident, miscalculation or madness would 
be significant. And so would the danger that a limited 
nuclear war in an unstable region would escalate to a 
general nuclear war between the United States and the 
Soviet Union. 

Because of these consequences of nuclear-weapon proli- 
feration the political leaders should ensure that nuclear 
fission as an energy source is replaced as soon as possible 
by other energy sources. 

To believe that proliferation can be controlled by such 
measures as the guidelines developed by the London Club 
of nuclear suppliers (New Scientist, vol 73, p 469) is not 
realistic. These are unlikely to succeed where the Non- 
Proliferation Treaty has failed. And any move which can 
be interpreted by non-industrialised countries as an 
attempt by the industrialised countries to monopolise tech- 
nology is likely to be so resented as to be counter- 

The fact has to be faced that a way to establish a viable 
non-proliferation regime has yet to be found. Until a way 
has been found, activities involving the most sensitive 
elements of the nuclear fuel cycle that can be delayed 
should be delayed. To extend reprocessing facilities at this 
time is simply asking for trouble. □ 


The need for 
nuclear power 

H. A. Bethe 

The vigorous development of nu- 
clear power is not a matter of 
choice, but of necessity. When say- 
ing this, I do not advocate unlimited 
and heedless expansion of our ener- 
gy consumption. But nuclear power 
is needed just to replace oil and 
natural gas, the fluid fuels on which 
we presently rely so much. Even if 
we were to decide that our (per 
capita) energy consumption should 
not increase at all, and even if we 
were able to implement that deci- 
sion by strict conservation, we 
would still need nuclear power. 

Our present consumption of oil is 
about 6 billion barrels per year. The 
known and inferred oil reserves of 
the United States are about 60 
billion barrels, a ten years' supply. 
The undiscovered, recoverable re- 
sources are more difficult to deter- 
mine, but the average estimate [1 ] is 
about 85 billion barrels, with esti- 
mates varying between 50 and 130 
billion barrels. (The chance of being 
outside these limits is stated to be 5 

percent on each side.) This gives us 
a total of 20 to 30 years of domestic, 
recoverable oil [2] if we do not 
import any. A short time indeed if 
we remember that it takes 10 years 
to put a nuclear plant in operation, 
and perhaps 40 years to introduce a 
completely new energy technology 
to the point where it makes a really 
'substantial contribution to the ener- 
gy supply (for nuclear fission, 1942 
to 1982). 

Nor can we seek our salvation in 
oil imports. The arguments about the 
high cost of these imports (perhaps 
$100 billion or more by the year 
2000) and their political insecurity 
are well known. But the most impor- 
tant point is that even world oil 
resources are limited. Assuming the 
world restrains its use of oil to the 
19" "5 level, the estimate of M. King 
Hubbert [3] of world oil resources 
indicates that these resources would 
last until about 2050, not long 
enough to relieve us from the task of 
deploying new energy sources soon. 

Bethe, H. A. The need for nuclear power. In 

Bulletin of the atomic scientists , March 
1977, pp. 59-62. Copyright material repro- 
duced with permission of copyright holder. 


I believe it would be unrealistic to 
plan for the year 2000 an oil con- 
sumption greater than our domestic 
production in 1973, namely, 23 
quadrillion Btu or 23 quads [4]. 
Some of this may have to be import- 
ed. Similarly, natural gas is not likely 
[51 to contribute more than the 22 
quads of 1973. Add 4 quads for 
hydropower, and you get a total of 
50 quads. The rest of our require- 
ments must come from other sourc- 
es, and the only two, major sources 
we presently know how to use are 
coal and uranium. 

How much do we need? Opinions 
about this differ widely. The Ford 
Foundation has published three use- 
ful "scenarios" in its book, A Time 
to Choose [6]. Without endorsing 
this book in general, I have repro- 
duced in Table 1 their scenarios for 
the next 25 years. The table also 
gives erda's projection [7] and my 
own guess. 

For 1985, I believe erda's esti- 
mate is more realistic than the esti- 
mates given in the Ford II (technical 
fix) and III (zero energy growth) sce- 
narios. In fact, erda assumes that 

very strong efforts will be made in 
energy conservation in many areas 
(transportation, industry, domestic) 
which will save about 11 to 16 
quads by 1 985. This is just about the 
difference between the erda and 
Ford I (historic growth) estimates. 
But ERDA presumably takes into 
account that between 1973 and 
1985 the number of Americans of 
working age will increase by 22 
percent. To get them employed, and 
to re-employ people now out of 
work, we need energy. Therefore, I 
have adopted the ERDA number for 

Beyond 1985, the number of 
working Americans will probably 
not increase greatly. Therefore I per- 
sonally would be satisfied with an 
increase of energy at the rate of 1 
percent per year. How much gross 
national product can increase in this 
case, I do not know. Statements that 
GNP can increase almost indepen- 
dently of energy [6] are very uncon- 
vincing because no details are given 
as to how this miracle is to be 
achieved. But surely, a wise policy 
on the structure of our economy and 

Projected energy consumption in United States 

(quadrillion Btu per year) 




Ford-I, historical 




growth scenario 

Ford-ll, technical 




fix scenario 

Ford— 111, zero energy 
growth scenario 









Source: Ford Foundation. A T,me to Choosa; and EROA. A Nat.onai Plan, report 76- 


of jobs will help. In this manner, I 
arrive at a total energy need of 1 1 5 
quads for the year 2000, even below 
the "technical fix scenario" of the 
Ford report (124 quads). Other esti- 
mates are much higher. For in- 
stance, Chauncey Starr [8] points 
out that a possible conservation of 
about 20 percent is likely to be 
partially offset by increased energy 
needs to avoid environmental dam- 
age, and thus arrives at 150 quads 
for the year 2000. (Therefore my 
estimate of 115 quads should be 
considered a minimum.) 

Of the 115 quads, perhaps 5 
quads might be covered by "new" 
energy sources; more about this be- 
low. Adding this to the 50 quads 
from oil, gas and hydro leaves 60 
quads to be obtained from coal and 
uranium. It seems reasonable to me 
to allot 25 quads to nuclear and 35 
quads to coal (Table 2). The main 
reason for putting more on coal is 
that this fuel can be (and is present- 
ly) used for direct heating in indus- 
trial processes, and can also be con- 

verted into synthetic oil and gas. 
Since most of the additional coal 
will have to come from Western 
strip mines, which yield coal of 
lower caloric value, about a billion 
tons of additional coal (1.6 billion 
total) per year will be needed. 

The 25 quads of nuclear power 
mean 500 plants of 1 gigawatt 
(CWe, equal to 1,000 megawatts 
electric output) each, a reasonable 
extrapolation from the 1 50 gigawatts 
expected by 1985. It is near the 
lower limit of erda's expectation 
[7] of 480 gigawatts for 2000, and 
less than half the earlier "median" 
expectation of the AEC [10], name- 
ly, 1,200 gigawatts. 

The shift to nuclear and coal 
means, of course, a big shift to elec- 
tric energy. While presently only 
about 25 percent of total energy 
goes into producing electricity, at 
least 40 percent would do so in 
2000. We have to learn to use the 
changed "mix" of energy sources 
properly. We really do not kave one 
energy problem, but two: one is to 


Possible mix of energy sources 

(quadrillion Btu per year) 
Oil 35 

Gas 22 

Hydroelectric 2 

Coal 15 

Nuclear 1 







Source For the year 1973. A Time to Choose |6|; for 2000. author's estimate. 


provide enough total energy, the 
other is to provide enough fluid 
fuel — gas and oil — for those uses 
where they are indispensable. These 
are primarily transportation, and 
feedstock for chemicals. 

New Energy Sources 

Oi the numerous new energy 
sources which have been proposed, 
I like best the following, in the order 

• solar power for heating of 

• solar power for providing low- 
grade heat for industrial processes 

• use of agricultural, forest and 
domestic wastes 

• geothermal 

• fusion 

• wind. 

For heating homes, solar power is 
likely to be economical in the 
mountain states [11]. Under certain 
optimistic assumptions I have calcu- 
lated that about 2 quads could come 
from this source [12]. 

The use of shallow pools and stor- 
age towers for hot water may have 
applications in certain industries, for 
example, mining. 

Agricultural and forest wastes I 
like particularly well because they 
could be converted into gas or 
methanol [13]. 

The economics and environmen- 
tal impact of geothermal and wind 
power will have to be established. 

For fusion, in contrast to all the 
other energy sources, even the feasi- 
bility has yet to be demonstrated. By 
now, I am optimistic and believe 
there is an even chance of this being 
done by 1985. Even so, the practical 
use of this source is almost certainly 
beyond the year 2000. 

I have not mentioned the large- 
scale generation of electric power 
from the sun because I believe the 

economics is very unfavorable. The 
reason, of course, is the great dif- 
fuseness of this energy source which 
requires a "concentrator." Of the 
proposed schemes, the "power tow- 
er" [14] has probably the greatest 
chance of becoming economical, 
and is being pursued vigorously at 
the Sandia Laboratory in Albuquer- 
que, N.M. Four separate industry- 
university team** are working on a 
system research experiment, with 
ERDA financing. 

Even assuming the most favorable 
prices for mass-produced compo- 
nents, however, the cost of a com- 
mercial plant will be about $2,500 
per electric kilowatt [15] excluding 
interest during construction and 
possible inflation. This is for an in- 
stallation located in the Southwest- 
ern desert and generating power for 
an average of 12 hours a day on 
sunny days; longer operation would 
involve further costs for energy stor- 
age. The cost for nuclear power 
plants being started now is about 
$500 to $600 per kilowatt (electric), 
again excluding interest and infla- 
tion. These plants can, of course, 
operate 24 hours a day. Solar energy 
without concentrators looks, at this 
point, even less promising. The eco- 
nomics of solar power has been 
discussed in more detail by W. Pol- 
lard [16]. 

In view of these difficulties, I be- 
lieve my estimate of 5 quads from 
new sources by 2000 is not overly 
pessimistic. While this figure is 
lower than the hopes of some peo- 
ple, I believe that research on these 
alternative energy sources, and in 
some cases development, is very 
much worth-while. But it takes a 
very long time from having an idea 
to proving its value in the laboratory, 
a much longer time for engineering 
development so that the process can 


be used in a large industrial plant 
and a still longer time before a major 
industry can be established. More- 
over, everybody should realize that 
only a rather small fraction of re- 
search projects leads to a successful 
commercial product: commitment 
to research, or even fairly costly 
development, cannot and must not 
mean commitment to final use of a 
device on a large scale. (This goes 
also for projects in which I am great- 
ly interested, such as the fast breeder 

Some people may feel that a still 
greater share of the required energy 
should come from coal, perhaps as 
much as 50 quads. While this would 
presumably be feasible, there are 
several arguments against it: 

• Rapid and massive expansion 
of coal production may be very diffi- 
cult [17]. 

• There are environmental objec- 
tions against too intense exploitation 
of the Western coal lands. 

• Some coal should be saved for 
conversion into oil, gas or petro- 

• If coal is the only available fuel, 
its price may increase very rapidly. 

I have left out the point that the 
adverse health effects from coal 
power plants are likely to be at least 
10 times worse than from nuclear 
plants [18J; they are still acceptable. 

Other Countries 

So far, I have spoken only about 
the United States. Rut in other indus- 
trial countries, the problems t iro far 
more serious There is little oil in 
Europe: only Great Britain looks for- 
ward to near-self-sufficiency in oil in 
the next decade, and Norway will 
probably have a surplus. But this 
surplus will cover only a small frac- 
tion of the needs of the rest of Eu- 
rope japan has no oil at nil. So all 
these countries will continue to rely 

on imports from OPEC, in the future 
as in the past. Just from the stand- 
point of balance of trade, as well as 
world oil conservation, these im- 
ports should not exceed their pre- 
sent level. For economic growth to 
continue, other sources of energy 
have to be found. 

In contrast to the United States, 
these countries cannot fall back on a 
large coal reserve; they do not have 
the option of doubling or quadru- 
pling their coal production. Nor 
could the United States undertake to 
supply these vast amounts of coal. 
(We already export a fair amount of 
high-grade, metallurgical coal.) Nor 
could these countries make much 
use of solar energy, even if this 
process could be made practical and 
economical in the United States: 
because of the higher latitude even 
the "scheduled" hours of sunshine 
in winter are short in most of Europe, 
and in addition cloud cover is gen- 
erally much greater in Europe than 
in the United States. The only one of 
the "new energy sources" which 
would work for Europe and lapan is 
fusion, but that is far in the future. 

So the options which we have do 
not exist for these countries: it is 
either fission power or nothing. Sim- 
ilarly, countries in a fairly advanced 
state of development, like the major 
Latin American countries and a few 
others, will need nuclear power. So 
even if the United States should 
(unexpectedly) decide to stop further 
deployment of nuclear power, this 
would not solve the one single prob- 
lem which, in my opinion, might be 
a valid argument against this power 
source, namely, that the same mate- 
rials which are used for nuclear 
power, uranium-23S and 233 and 
plutonium, can also be used to make 
nuclear weapons. 

The two major West Furopean 
pov\er^ whic h presently do not have 


nuclear weapons, West Germany 
and Italy, will, I am confident, real- 
ize that their security is served better 
by refraining from their develop- 
ment. The same, I hope, will be true 
of other prospective major users of 
nuclear power, such as Iran, the 
larger Latin American states and oth- 
ers. A country generally is more 
secure if neither it nor its possibly 
hostile neighbors have these weap- 
ons. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation 
Treaty is meant to assure countries 
that indeed their neighbors do not 
intend to develop nuclear weapons. 
It should be bolstered by an agree- 
ment that individual nations which 
do not have nuclear power technol- 
ogy of their own, should not acquire 
plants for reprocessing nuclear fuels 
or isotope separation plants, be- 
cause such plants are necessary 
steps toward obtaining materials for 
nuclear weapons [19]. 

Oi course, these arrangements 
can only slow down the prolifera- 
tion of nuclear weapons; they can- 
not prevent it. A really determined 
nation can develop the means to 
produce nuclear material for weap- 
ons. The aim must be to set the 
threshold of determination very 

Whatever steps are taken to slow 
the proliferation of nuclear weap- 
ons, a voluntary decision by the 
United States to forego commercial 
nuclear power would not contribute 
to this goal. Other countries will 
need nuclear power, no matter what 
we might do. 

Other objections to nuclear 
power have been raised. Many of 
these have been discussed exten- 
sively in my article in Scientific 
American [12], especially the im- 
portant issues of waste disposal and 
reactor safety. On reactor safety, I 
believe essentially the conclusions 

of the Rasmussen report (JO], al- 
though some details of this may still 
be debatable. Serious reactor acci- 
dents, according to this report, 
should be exceedingly rare, perhaps 
one in 1,000 years when 100 reac- 
tors are working. And the average 
number of fatalities from one of 
these is estimated as 2,000, nearly 
all in the form of delayed cancers. 
Methods for waste disposal have 
been developed which appear 
sound and will protect the popula- 
tion securely from damage by radio- 
activity in the waste. Nevertheless, 
additional research will need to be 
done on waste disposal and on fur- 
ther improvement of reactor safety. 

The cost of nuclear power has 
often been discussed in these pages. 
Many opponents of nuclear power 
believe that it will fall of its own 
weight, by increasing cost. Indeed, 
according to a study made for the 
old AEC [21], the cost has increased 
from about $135 per installed elec- 
tric kilowatt for plants completed in 
1 972 to $730 for plants expected to 
be finished in 1983. But nearly half 
of the latter amount is for expected 
inflation and interest during con- 
struction. Excluding these two com- 
ponents, which were negligible in 
the earlier period, the cost for "1 983 
plants" is $385 per kilowatt (electri- 
cal). Nuclear plants which are 
planned today cost about $500 per 
kilowatt (electrical), excluding inter- 
est and inflation. The cost of coal- 
firing power plants is perhaps 15 to 
20 percent lower, once the required 
sulfur "scrubbers" are included. 

Nevertheless, nuclear power still 
is cheaper overall, in most parts of 
the country, because of the fuel cost. 
A very careful study was done by M. 
B. Spangler [22] for the conditions in 
Connecticut, assuming different 
prices for uranium ore. At $40 per 


pound which is near the upper limit 
of uranium prices quoted for future 
delivery, nuclear power is found to 
be about 12 percent cheaper than 
coai. This will probably remain true 
unless and until uranium itself be- 
comes very scarce. 

Uranium Supply 

Another prediction of the early 
death of nuclear power is based on 
the claim that there is not enough 
uranium. Counting only ores con- 
taining more than 200 parts per mil- 
lion of uranium oxide (which may 
cost up to $60 a pound to recover), 
the proven U.S. reserves are given 
[23] as 0.6 million short tons, but the 
estimated total resources as 3.5 mil- 
lion. To fuel a light water reactor of 
1,000 megawatts for its life (40 
years, with power decreasing to- 
ward the end) takes about 5,000 
short tons [12], so we are likely to 
have enough uranium for 700 reac- 
tors. Foreign uranium deposits (Aus- 
tralia, Canada, Africa, etc.) are prob- 
ably larger, in relation to foreign 

Thus, we appear to have enough 
uranium to fuel the reactors to be 
built until the end of this century, 
and keep them fueled to the end of 
their useful life. However, we clear- 
ly need to develop reactors which 
use uranium more efficiently. At 
present we know at least two solu- 
tions to this problem. One is the 
heavy water reactor which has been 
developed very successfully in Can- 
ada. The present "Candu" reactor 
uses natural uranium, moderated by 
heavy water. In this form, its neutron 
e< onomy is about the same as that of 
the U.S. light water reactor. Howev- 
er, Candu can be modified to use 
enriched uranium (about i percent) 
and thorium as a fertile material. It 
will then "breed" uranium-233, an 

isotope which has the best proper- 
ties (of all fissile isotopes) when in- 
teracting with thermal neutrons. 
When uranium-233 has replaced 
uranium-235, this reactor could 
hold its own in fissionable material 
provided the fuel elements are re- 
processed sufficiently frequently 
(about once a year) to remove 

neutron-absorbing fission products. 
Such a near-breeder reactor would 
not need any fuel after the initial fuel 
charge (less than 400 tons of natural 
uranium oxide). 

An advantage of this reactor 
would be that its technology is es- 
sentially known (although the use of 
enriched fuel and thorium would 
require some modification of the 
present Candu), and therefore its 
cost would also be predictable. A 
more advanced reactor using 
uranium-233 and thorium is the 
molten salt reactor [24] developed 
at Oak Ridge. This reactor, using 
technology which has only been 
demonstrated on a laboratory scale, 
reprocesses the molten fuel continu- 
ally, and thereby achieves a (small) 
breeding gain. 

The other solution of the uranium 
supply problem is, of course, the fast 
breeder, using a mixture of plutoni- 
um and uranium. As is well known, 
this is still under development. But, 
in contrast to controlled fusion, we 
know that it works: many experi- 
mental breeder reactors in many 
countries have worked very satisfac- 
torily, notably the Experimental 
Breeder Reactor II in Idaho which 
has operated continuously since 
1963. In the next stage of develop- 
ment, the French demonstration re- 
actor Phenix has worked extremely 
smoothly for over two years. 

Some technical problems remain 
to be solved, such as trouble-free 
and efficient heat transfer from the 


sodium coolant to water in the 
steam generator. The economics 
must be improved, compared with 
the Clinch River Demonstration Re- 
actor which is to be built soon. 
While some of the projections on 
economics may be too optimistic, I 
believe that the price is likely to be 
less than 1 Va times that of a light 
water reactor. At this level, it will be 
economical once we have to use 
uranium from low-grade ores, such 
as Chattanooga shale which may 
cost as much as $150 a pound. 

The great advantage oi the breed- 
er is its very low consumption of 
uranium (or thorium). Not only does 
a given amount of uranium give 
about 60 times as much energy as it 
woul d in a light water reactor, but it 
becomes justifiable, both economi- 
cally and environmentally, to use 
very low-grade ores such as granite. 
Including just the best grade, Con- 
way granite, the United States would 
have enough uranium for 40,000 
years. The breeder thus provides an 
essentially inexhaustible energy 

For this reason, I consider the fast 
breeder the best solution of the ura- 
nium supply problem. But I want to 
repeat, it is not the only one. 

I want to conclude with a state- 
ment by Governor Brown of Califor- 
nia [25], "The role of the leader is to 
help shape the discussion of nation- 
al issues and not help foster unreal 
thinking." Too often unreal thinking 
on energy has dominated discussion 
by political leaders as well as the 


1. U.S. Geological Survey, Publication 725. 

2. The contrary view was expressed by Barry Commoner in 
The Poverty of Power: Energy and the Crisis (New York: 
Knopf, 1976). He gives the U.S. oil resources as 325 billion 
barrels Commoner's view seems to be based on a dispute, 
several years ago, within the U.S. Geological Survey, be- 

tween M King Hubbert and A D Zapp Hubbert has 
circulated privately his comments on the Commoner article 
He says, "A more erroneous and misleading interpretation of 
the account of the petroleum estimates by Hubbert and Zapp 
would be difficult to devise." In any case, this dispute is a 
thing of the past. In the last two years, the entire US 
Geological Survey, as well as independent groups, have 
come down to about the same figures as Hubbert predicted 
years ago, and which are listed above. 

3. M King Hubbert, US Senate Committee on Interior and 
Insular Affairs, Serial 93-40, US. Government Printing Of- 
fice. 1974. M. King Hubbert, "Degree of Advancement of 
Petroleum Exploration in United States," American Associ- 
ation of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, 51:11 (1967), 2207- 

4. One quad is short for one quadrillion (If) 15 ) British 
thermal units (Btu). One quad of on, at present prices, costs 
about $2 billion. One million barrels of oil per day corre- 
sponds to about two quads per year. 

5. Our undiscovered resources of gas are believed to be 
larger than of oil, enough for about 40 years at present 
consumption (U.S. Geological Survey, report no. 725, 1976). 
But at present our scarcity is more acute. 

6. A Time to Choose: America's Energy Future Final 
Report by the Energy Policy Project of the Ford Foundation 
(Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Publishing Co., 1974). 

7. ERDA, A National Plan for Energy Research, Develop- 
ment and Demonstration: Creating Energy Choices for the 
Future, report 76-1, 1976. 

8. Chauncey Starr, "The Year 2000: Energy Enough?," 
Environmental Protection Research Institute Journal, )une 

9. Federal Energy Administration, National Energy Out- 
look, 1976. 

10. Atomic Energy Commission, Nuclear Power Growth, 
1 974-2000, WASH- 11 39, 1974. 

11. Detailed statistical research by J D. Balcomb of Los 
Alamos Scientific Laboratory has shown that it is the moun- 
tain states, from New Mexico to Montana, where solar 
heating could make the greatest contribution, not the south- 
ern states. 

12. H. A. Bethe, "The Necessity of Fission Power," 
Scientific American, 234 (Jan. 1976), 21. 

13. Alan D. Poole and R Williams, "Flower Power: 
Prospects for Photosynthetic Energy," Bulletin of Atomic 
Scientists, May 1976. 

14. M. ]. Antal, Jr., "Tower Power: Producing Fuels from 
Solar Energy," Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, May 1976. 

15. Information from G. E. Brandvold of Sandia Laborato- 

16. W. G. Pollard, "Long-Range Prospects for Solar Ener- 
gy," American Scientist, 64 (1976), 424. 

17. See, for example, R. A. Schmidt and G. R. Hill, "Coal: 
Energy Keystone," Annual Review of Energy, 1 (1976), 37. 

18. C. L. Comar and L. A. Sagan, "Health Effects of Energy 
Production and Conversion," Annual Review ot Energy, 1 
(1976), 581. 

19. This would permit reprocessing plants shared between 
several nations of a region (such as South America), as 
proposed by the former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. 

20. Atomic Energy Commission, Reactor Safety Study, 
WASH-1400 (Washington, DC: Nuclear Regulatory Com- 
mission, November 1975). 

21. Atomic Energy Commission, Nuclear Plant Cost, 
WASH-1345, 1974. 

22. M. B. Spangler, Chief, Cost-Benefit Anavlsis Branch, 
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, March 1976. 

23. ERDA report 76-1. p. 47. 

24. A. M Perry and A. M. Weinberg, "Thermal Breeder 
Reactors," Annual Review of Nuclear Science, 22 (1972), 

25. The New Yorker, Sept. 13, 1976. p. 117 


Nuclear Proliferation 

and the Spread 

of New Conventional 

Weapons Technology 

Richard Burt 


i rowing concern over 
the prospects of widespread nuclear proliferation in the next decade has sparked 
an energetic search for new mechanisms for containing, or at least managing, the 
process of nuclear proliferation. In the many approaches now being discussed, two 
different strategies of nonproliferation can be broadly distinguished. The first, 
which aims at influencing nuclear weapon capabilities, attempts to manage the 
transfer of the technology, the expertise, and the resources which potentially could 
be used by a nonnuclear state to produce weapons. 1 The application of internation- 
al safeguards to nuclear fuel cycle processes, the efforts of the so-called nuclear 
suppliers' club to work out common understandings on the transfer of technology, 
and the possible establishment of regional reprocessing facilities under interna- 
tional control can all be understood as applications of this approach. The second 
strategy does not specifically emphasize the control of technology or resources, 
but is directed towards lowering the incentives for nonnuclear states to exploit 
them for purposes of producing weapons. This strategy aims at influencing nuclear 
intentions by focusing on the security concerns that might lead nations to acquire 
weapons. In the past, the negotiation of arms control agreements among existing 
nuclear states as well as policies designed to enhance the credibility of nuclear 
commitments to allies and the establishment of "nuclear free" zones have all been 
understood as methods of reducing incentives for proliferation. 

Curiously, the impact and possible utility of conventional arms transfers for 
strategies of nonproliferation is a policy area that has traditionally received little 
attention. In those cases where the issue has been addressed, arguments have 
been only vaguely articulated: for instance, it has been argued that the transfer 
of some military equipment, such as advanced aircraft, could influence nuclear 
capabilities by providing an attractive means of nuclear weapons delivery. This 
concern influenced United States opposition to the delivery of the nuclear-ca- 
pable Pershing missile to Israel in 1975. 2 However, it has also been maintained 
that the supply of conventional military equipment could influence nuclear in- 

1. A "nonnuclear state" will be used here to mean a nation that does not presently possess a 
nuclear weapon and delivery capability. 

2. See Nuclear Threat in the Middle East, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Re- 
search (Washington: AEI, 1975), p. 31. 

Burt, Richard. Proliferation and the spread of 
new conventional weapons technology. In Inter- 
national Security 1, no. 3 (winter 1977) pp. 119- 
139. Reprinted with permission of International 
Security 1, no. 3 (Winter 1977) pp. 119-139. 
Copyright 1976 by the President and Fellows of 
Harvard College. 


tentions by providing an alternative to nuclear weapons acquisition. Again, 
American arms policies towards Israel have provided a basis for the fear that a 
sudden curtailment of American support might lead to an Israeli emphasis on 
nuclear defense. 

Little effort has been expended on exploring the relationship between nuclear 
proliferation and conventional arms transfers. In part, this may be because the 
spread of conventional weapons is viewed as a serious problem in its own right, 
possessing its own dynamics and its own bureaucratic and academic constituen- 
cies. It also certainly reflects the fact that conventional arms transfers are seen 
to fulfill foreign policy objectives other than merely stemming nuclear prolifera- 
tion. 3 With the exception of certain specific cases, the tendency has been either to 
ignore the implications of the diffusion of conventional military power for nu- 
clear proliferation or to note simplistically that nuclear proliferation "has in- 
creased the risk that a local conflict involving conventional arms might escalate 
into a nuclear conflagration." 4 

Two recent developments — one technological, the other political — suggest that 
this will not remain the case for long. First, the growing availability of a new 
generation of conventional weapons has raised the possibility that an expanded 
menu of nonnuclear options might not only be used to bolster the defensive capa- 
bilities of insecure, would-be nuclear powers, but that new conventional weap- 
ons might be substituted in roles that were previously thought to require nuclear 
weapons. This has resulted in schemes in which the introduction of new conven- 
tional weapons is linked to such nonproliferation measures as the establish- 
ment of nuclear free zones. Second, there is growing interest in using conven- 
tional arms transfers (or more precisely, the threat of restricting arms transfers) 
as a means of gaining leverage over the decisions of recipients of nuclear tech- 
nology. It has been suggested, for example, that the threat of an American arms 
embargo might be used to induce non-signatories of the 1968 Non-Proliferation 

3. As late as October 1975, the impact of conventional arms transfers on nuclear proliferation 
does not appear to have been an official criterion for United States arms sale decisions, despite 
the fact that this consideration has seemed to play a role in certain isolated cases. In testimony 
to Congress, Sidney Sobery, Assistant Secretary of State with special responsibilities for the 
Middle East and Southern Asia, listed ten major criteria that were applied to requests for the 
sale of United States arms during the early 1970s. These ranged from determining whether a 
weapon was "offensive" or "defensive" to whether alternative sources were available to supply 
the system. Absent was any reference to whether the state was thought to harbor nuclear 
ambitions. Atlantic News, No. 772 (Brussels), October 31, 1975. 

4. Controlling the Conventional Arms Race, National Policy Panel Report of the United Nations 
Association of the U.S.A., November 1976, p. 4. 


Treaty (NPT) to adhere to the regulations of that agreement. 5 Under a provision 
of the 1976 Arms Export Control Act, United States military and economic aid 
has been formally linked to constraining the use of nuclear technology by re- 
cipient states. The provision does not require NPT membership, but threatens an 
embargo on economic and military aid and sales to states that deliver or receive 
nuclear reprocessing technology without international safeguards. Thus, more 
by accident than design, the relationship between conventional arms transfers 
and the spread of nuclear weapons has become more important and more contro- 
versial. 7 The question of whether conventional arms transfers can be usefully 
incorporated into a strategy of nonproliferation is based on the assumptions that 
the proliferation of nuclear weapons poses a graver threat to international order 
than the spread of conventional arms and that little progress is likely to be made 
in severely limiting the spread of conventional weapons. Thus, priority is given 
to manipulating the arms trade in order to meet other objectives — in this case, 
nuclear nonproliferation. Using different assumptions, it would be just as appro- 
priate to investigate the possibility of using nuclear arms to stem the prolifera- 
tion of conventional capabilities. Four questions are addressed: 

1. What new nonnuclear weapons technologies are becoming available to 
would-be nuclear states and what will be their likely impact on security consid- 
erations that might lead to the acquisition of nuclear arms? 

2. Will certain of these technologies provide effective substitutes for nuclear 
capabilities and thus serve to dampen incentives to acquire nuclear arms? 

5. See "Arms Trade in the 1980s," paper prepared for The 1980s Project of the Council on For- 
eign Relations by Anne Hessing Cahn and Joseph J. Kruzel (draft), pp. 19-20. 

6. The International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act was signed into law 
by President Ford in July 1976. The provision referred to here was introduced by Senator 
Stuart Symington and prohibits the furnishing of economic assistance or military assistance 
(with the exception of food grants) and military sales to countries that "deliver or receive 
nuclear reprocessing technology materials, equipment or technology unless they adhere to In- 
ternational Atomic Energy Agency or other international safeguards." This is qualified, how- 
ever, by the provision that the President can waive the prohibition in specific cases, if he 
determines that vital security interests are involved and obtains assurances that nuclear weap- 
ons will not be fabricated from American supplied nuclear material. 

7. This was vividly demonstrated in the apparently contradictory discussions held by the 
United States Secretary of State with the Shah of Iran and Prime Minister Bhutto of Pakistan 
during August 1976, where, in the case of Iran, interests of nonproliferation were said to be 
served by the continuance of American conventional sales; but in the case of Pakistan those 
same interests were said to necessitate the threat of an American arms embargo. The threat of 
withholding military equipment from Pakistan was used to dissuade the government from going 
ahead with the purchase of reactor and reprocessing technology from France. Secretary of State 
Henry Kissinger reportedly justified this action by referring to his obligations under the lan- 
guage of the Symington provision. See footnote 6. 


3. While possibly replacing nuclear weapons in some roles, will a new class 
of conventional deterrent weapons create special problems of its own? 

4. What are the political costs and benefits of using conventional arms trans- 
fers as a lever to influence the nuclear decisions of recipient states? 

Developments in Nonnuclear Technology 

As the above questions indicate, there are two distinct arguments of how devel- 
opments in conventional weapons technology might reduce pressures for states 
to acquire nuclear weapons. The first is that a wide range of high-performance 
but relatively cheap and serviceable weapons is now coming on the market and 
that these systems will work to significantly bolster the military viability of 
insecure would-be nuclear nations. The second is that a class of more advanced 
systems could become surrogates for nuclear weapons, providing states with 
credible conventional deterrent capabilities. Each of these possibilities will be 
considered separately. 

It is widely accepted that military technology is now changing significantly 
and that a cluster of new weapons and support systems could have a dramatic 
impact on military tactics, organization, and the actual outcome of conflict over 
the next ten to twenty years. 8 The implications of the new weapons for the char- 
acter of modern war are unclear, but some observers have argued that in the future 
weaker states should generally be better able to provide for their own defense, 
particularly against such older military technologies as aircraft, armored forces 
and amphibious craft. 9 It is useful to note four areas where technological change 
appears to be working to the advantage of the defender: 

1. Battlefield-guided weapons: The deployment of precision-guided, mobile 
and, in some instances, man-portable, anti-tank missiles and air defense systems 
iias significantly increased the vulnerability of tanks and aircraft on and over the 
battlefield. Because these systems are not expensive and require little training 
and maintenance, they appear well-suited to the defensive needs of less devel- 

S. For a comprehensive introduction to the prospects for new weapons technologies, see G. 
Kemp, R. Pfaltzgraff and U. Ra'anan (eds.) The Other Arms Race, (Lexington, MA.: Lexing- 
ton Books, 1975) and John J. Hoist and Uwe Nerlich (eds.), Beyond Nuclear Deterrence: 
New Aims, New Arms (New York: Crane and Russak, 1976). 

9*. See especially James Digby, "Precision Guided Weapons," Adelphi Paper No. 118 (Lon- 
don: International Institute for Strategic Studies [IISS], 1975); Col. Edward B. Atkeson, 
'"Precision Guided Munitions: Implications for Detente," Parameters, Vol. V, No. 2; and 
Pieter Wilson, "Battlefield Guided Weapons; The Big Equalizer," Proceedings of the Naval Insti- 
tute, February 1975. 

37-189 O - 79 - 5 


oped nations. When wedded with improved target-engagement technology, 
longer range precision-guided weapons can be used to strike lucrative targets 
beyond the battlefield, such as troop concentrations and artillery emplacements. 

2. Area weapons on land: The ability to rapidly and efficiently deliver mines 
and cluster munitions from aircraft, missiles and artillery tubes will enable 
states to erect formidable barriers to large-scale armored and infantry penetra- 
tion. At the least, by slowing down and channeling the movements of attacking 
units, a new family of area weapons will complement the deployment of preci- 
sion-guided weapons by easing the task of target acquisition. 

3. Sea denial and coastal defense weapons: A new generation of highly 
accurate anti-ship missiles will provide small naval vessels and coastal defense 
installations with the capability to threaten large naval combatants. Advances in 
naval mines and torpedo technology, meanwhile, could allow coastal states to 
close off maritime approaches and strategic straits to incursion. 

4. Surveillance and warning: The use of small remotely-piloted vehicles, re- 
mote sensors stationed on land, and reconnaissance aids (night vision devices, 
moving target indicators) will improve tactical intelligence-gathering and thus 
will improve strategic warning against surprise attack. This should increase the 
confidence of states having tense borders. 

It is frequently suggested that the combined effect of these developments will 
be to shift the balance of the offense-defense duel in the favor of the defender. 
This notion is not only based on the argument that offensive-oriented weapons 
like tanks and strike aircraft are likely to become more vulnerable, but that in- 
herent benefits accruing to the defender, such as concealment and knowledge 
of terrain, are likely to become more salient as small units come to possess 
greatly increased fire-power. Precision-guided munitions (PGMs) are seen to have 
an especially important role, for in a "one-shot, one-kill" era the collateral dam- 
age associated with intense conventional warfare could decline dramatically. 
This would not only mean that states could more effectively employ defense-in- 
depth strategies, but that they might also find it easier to adjust psychologically 
to the idea of intense conventional conflict rather than opting for deterrence-only 
defenses based on the uncertain nuclear threat. Thus, some observers have specu- 
lated that the introduction of new conventional weapons technologies could en- 
able existing nuclear powers to adopt nuclear "no first use" policies, while non- 
nuclear states might be more willing to agree to establishing nuclear free zones. 
In essence, by providing nations the means to guarantee their security without 
nuclear force, new weapons technologies are said to reduce substantially the mili- 
tary advantages attached to nuclear weapons procurement. 


This is an intriguing argument, but it must be approached with considerable 
caution. Several crucial questions need to be resolved before any general claims 
concerning the military impact of new weapons technologies can be stated con- 
fidently. One important group of questions concerns the actual ability of the new 
systems to perform as advertised: how well will PGMs function under fluid 
battlefield conditions, where target acquisition and designation will offer spe- 
cial problems? Will less developed states be able to cope with the elaborate com- 
mand and control and communications infrastructure that in some cases is essen- 
tial to the efficient use of the new weapons? Will an even newer generation of 
reliable and inexpensive countermeasures nullify the apparent advantages 
flowing from contemporary technological developments? Answers to these ques- 
tions will not be attempted here, but it is important to note that no general con- 
sensus yet exists on the operational implications of the new technology. More- 
over, if and when these questions are resolved, a host of equally difficult prob- 
lems will still have to be addressed. While it is possible to distinguish between 
defensive and offensive strategies of war, neither conform to any precisely-defined 
set of operations on the local, tactical level. In combined arms warfare, defensive 
strategies are a composite of offensive and defensive tactics and it is necessary 
to examine specific military relationships before making judgments as to who 
is likely to benefit most from the introduction of new technologies. In the case 
of the NATO-Warsaw Pact balance in Central Europe, for instance, there are in- 
dications that the Soviet Union is seeking to exploit the defensive advantages of 
new anti-tank weaponry for offensive ends. 10 The reverse case seems to apply 
to Israel, which has used tanks and aircraft in offensive roles in the service of a 
defensive-dominated strategy. It might be argued that the movement of tech- 
nology in favor of the defender will result in a net decline in Israeli security, 
which could act to foster a decision to emphasize nuclear weapons for defense. 

Another important dimension of this problem concerns the argument that 
during wartime the use of PGMs will increase the consumption of ordnance 
and the intensity of combat. This contention is not only based on the actual 
experience of the 1973 war in the Middle East, but also on the observation that the 
decentralization of release authority implicit in widescale deployment of PGMs 
will require larger stocks of weapons. When the possibility of higher consump- 
tion rates is coupled with the higher attrition rates expected from the use of 
PGMs, three consequences could follow. First, rather than favoring the defense, 

10. See Philip Karber's arguments concerning the use of anti-tank weapons in "The Soviet Anti- 
Tank Debate," Survival, May/June, 1976. 


the new technologies could merely work to favor the side possessing larger 
forces-in-being. Thus, the emergence of a "one-shot one-kill era" would appear 
to especially benefit military forces, like those of the Warsaw Pact and the Arab 
states, which are equipped and organized to sustain heavy losses. Second, by 
accelerating the pace of conflict, the new technologies could reduce the time avail- 
able for techniques of crisis management through tacit bargaining by controlled 
escalation. Rapid, intense conflicts could create an atmosphere in which uncon- 
sidered or premature escalatory responses became more likely. 11 Third, the high 
consumption of stocks and the rapid attrition of forces could result in making 
states more, rather than less, dependent on outside suppliers to secure their de- 
fenses. This may be seen by some states to be politically unacceptable while 
large-scale aid might be unavailable to others. 

The impact, then, of the spread of new nonnuclear weapons could be very dif- 
ferent than the commonly-held view that they would promote military stability 
between potential adversaries. In some circumstances, the result could be to ex- 
acerbate numerical asymmetries between weaker and stronger forces, to intro- 
duce new incentives for escalation in time of conflict and, finally, to increase the 
dependency of weaker states on stronger allies. Any one of these outcomes could 
serve to reinforce tendencies towards nuclear proliferation. 

Until the implications of PGMs and other new technologies are better under- 
stood, it will be difficult to argue convincingly that a new generation of conven- 
tional weapons will act together to secure the defenses of threatened states. But 
there may be some cases in which the introduction of new weapons would solve 
specific defense problems confronted by would-be nuclear nations. The wide- 
spread acquisition by Yugoslavia of modern anti-tank weapons, for instance, 
would probably go a long way to counter the existing threat posed by Soviet ar- 
mor. If systems like the United States Army's TOW missile were made avail- 
able to the Tito regime, this might have some impact on what appears to be a 
growing interest in the acquisition of a tactical nuclear weapons capability. 12 
Moreover, the debate over the implications of new technologies has generally 
centered around their impact on the military balance in Europe and the Middle 
East, regions in which states possess a full panoply of modern equipment and 

11. See James L. Foster's arguments in "New Conventional Weapons Technologies: Implica- 
tions for the Third World," (draft), presented at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy 
Conference on Implications of the Military Buildup in Non-Industrialized States, May 6-8, 1976. 

12. For a statement of Yugoslav interest in both new nuclear and nonnuclear technologies, 
see the article by Dimitrije Seserinac Gedza in the party newspaper Borba, December 7, 1975. 
(Reprinted in Survival, May/June 1976). 


where the lessons of combined arms warfare are most apt. In other regions (e.g., 
Latin America or Sub-Saharan Africa) where stocks are smaller and balanced 
forces almost non-existent, and where gaps in capabilities might be more easily 
exploited, the introduction of PGMs, barrier weapons, and improved surveillance 
and warning systems might have a far greater impact than in more densely 
armed areas: the options that were open to Israeli commanders in countering the 
Egyptian use of anti-tank weapons in the Sinai are unlikely to be available to a 
Peruvian tank commander who confronts Chilean forces armed with TOW. 

The Surrogate Technologies and Incentives for Proliferation 

While new conventional weapons do not seem to promise to make nuclear weap- 
ons unattractive or unnecessary to would-be nuclear states, this does not rule out 
the possibility that a narrower range of nonnuclear systems could be used for 
roles that were previously assigned to nuclear weapons. There are already several 
instances where new conventional weapons are being used to lessen reliance on 
older, nuclear systems. Advanced medium- and high-altitude air defense missiles, 
such as the United States Army's Patriot, are scheduled to replace the nuclear- 
armed Nike Hercules during the 1980s. Conventionally-armed, scatterable land 
mines and cluster munitions could serve as effective substitutes for atomic dem- 
olition mines in appropriate areas in Western Europe. Laser-guided artillery sys- 
tems, meanwhile, might provide a convincing capability against forward-de- 
ployed artillery and rocket forces in Eastern Europe or North Korea and thus could 
provide an effective substitute for nuclear rounds. 13 

Perhaps the most interesting and important of these surrogate technologies 
from the standpoint of nuclear substitution is the new family of long-range, 
precision-guided cruise and ballistic missiles now under development in the 
United States, such as the Navy's Tomahawk cruise missile, the Air Force's 
air-launched cruise missile (ALCM), and the Army's Pershing II and improved 
Lance ballistic missiles. Deployed with new point and area munitions, these sys- 
tems will be capable of performing a variety of missions in the European theater, 
including deep interdiction strikes and attacks against high-value, hardened tar- 
gets in Eastern Europe. In South Korea, precision-guided missiles, equipped with 
earth penetrator warheads, could be targeted against underground aircraft shel- 
ters in the north. In the Middle East, missiles armed with fuel-air explosives 

13. Rocket-assisted, guided artillery rounds have been tested by the United States at ranges 
exceeding 30 miles. 


could be used to destroy hardened, dispersed airbases. 14 Missiles armed with 
submunition packages, meanwhile, might provide an effective means to sup- 
press air defense installations, a role that has been projected for Israel's conven- 
tionally-armed Lance. During the next decade, then, highly accurate deliver)' 
vehicles armed with specialized warheads are likely to be used to supplant nu- 
clear weapons in many tactical roles and, more importantly, might be deployed 
to perform strategic missions against military command centers, vulnerable eco- 
nomic assets, and high-value civilian targets. 

But if conventional weapons can increasingly be used to replace nuclear 
arms in specific roles, can we be at all confident that this development will arrest 
tendencies towards nuclear proliferation? This cannot be answered in isolation 
from an analysis of the reasons that motivate states to seek nuclear weapons. 
While the existence of direct security threats is a crucial variable in determin- 
ing the timing and the nature of specific decisions to acquire nuclear weapons, 
the costs and benefits of going nuclear cannot be calculated in purely military 
terms, but ultimately must be related to domestic political factors and the wider 
characteristics of the international system. These include the nature of the East- 
West military balance, the state of alliance systems and commitments, the role 
of regional powers, and norms concerning the use of force. As Edward Luttwak 
has persuasively argued, both the security and the prestige value of nuclear 
weapons acquisition have usually been relatively low. 15 This was primarily the 
result of the strength of American power and the credibility of American com- 
mitments. In the bipolar international system, some would-be nuclear states 
were provided with credible nuclear guarantees, while others, lacking such pro- 
tection, were constrained from providing for their own nuclear defense by a rigid 
international pecking order. 

With the passing of the cold war's bipolarity, both incentives for acquiring 
nuclear weapons have increased. Superpower strategic parity has gradually di- 
minished the credibility of the American nuclear commitment, particularly in 
the case of such peripheral allies as South Korea, Taiwan and Pakistan. Coupled 
with the emergence of strategic parity, the elaboration of the so-called "Nixon 
Doctrine," which acted to qualify American commitments to Third World nations, 
created new pressures for nuclear proliferation. These pressures have been rein- 

14. See Steven J. Rosen and Martin Indyk, "The Temptation to Pre-empt in a Fifth Arab- 
Israeli War," Orbis. Vol. 20, No. 2 (Summer 1976) pp. 279-280. 

15. Edward Luttwak, "U.S. Foreign Policy in a Proliferating World," (draft), presented at Cali- 
fornia Arms Control and Foreign Policy Seminar's Conference on Prospects for Proliferation: 
The Impact on U.S. Foreign Policy, Los Alamos, New Mexico, May 22-23, 1976, p. 2. 


forced by the decay and dissolution of security arrangements such as SEATO and 
a tendency within the United States to re-examine nuclear deployment policies 
and foreign commitments. 

As nations huddling under the American nuclear umbrella have been forced to 
consider new security alternatives, neutral states have come to view their non- 
nuclear status as just another manifestation of an international system that is 
politically, economically and militarily rigged against them. Arrangements like 
the NPT system are increasingly seen as efforts by the major powers to perpetu- 
ate what is said to be an unjust international order. 10 At the same time, the 
technology for obtaining weapons-grade material — enriched uranium and plu- 
tonium — is becoming increasingly accessible to a new group of potential regional 
powers (e.g., India, Brazil, Iran) who aspire to and, unlike in earlier periods, 
are actually able to achieve positions of greater status in an increasingly plural- 
istic and fragmented international system. The result is a vicious cycle which 
increases incentives to go nuclear: United States-Soviet nuclear parity makes it 
difficult for the superpowers to make good on guarantees to nonnuclear allies, 
raising the incentives for these states to obtain their own nuclear shields. When 
this occurs, residual superpower nuclear commitments become riskier and thus 
more uncertain, setting off new pressures to proliferate. 

The availability of a growing class of nuclear surrogate technologies is just 
one additional factor to consider in calculating the impact of the erosion of post- 
war alliance systems in the West. In the case of South Korea, for example, a 
continued American willingness to supply new conventional weapons is likely 
to be accompanied by a growing interest in withdrawing American troops and/or 
nuclear weapons from the peninsula. This points to an important distinction that 
must be made in considering the impact of the surrogate technologies: while the 
new weapons may be able to perform in roles now assigned to nuclear weapons, 
their ability to replace the elements of psychological deterrence and political com- 
mitment stemming from the stationing of nuclear weapons and troops on Korean 
soil is questionable. If linked to the removal of American bases, the transfer of 
surrogate technologies to South Korea would bear an uncomfortable resem- 
blance to "Vietnamization." 

In Western Europe, the situation is somewhat different, for the transfer (or 

16. The most eloquent presentation of the Third World's case against the NPT system and other 
nonproliferation mechanisms has been presented by Hedley Bull. See "Rethinking Non-Pro- 
liferation," International Affairs, April 1975 and "Arms Control and World Order," Interna- 
tional Security, Summer 1976. 


the indigenous development) of surrogate technologies is unlikely to foreshadow 
a large-scale American withdrawal from NATO. However, their deployment 
could be coupled with a drive to de-emphasize the role of theater nuclear weapons 
in Alliance strategy. This development could disturb the fragile consensus with- 
in NATO over military doctrine, especially if the consequences of down-grading 
the role of nuclear weapons for deterrence were perceived as increasing the likeli- 
hood of protracted conventional war should deterrence fail. At the same time, the 
availability of a new generation of long-range conventional strike systems, ca- 
pable of attacking high-value targets deep in Eastern Europe or in the Soviet home- 
land itself, could provide Western European governments with a new means of es- 
calation autonomy — the ability independently to raise the stakes attached to 
Warsaw Pact aggression. But these new conventional options are better under- 
stood as deterrent links rather than military ends in themselves, for even the most 
fully developed conventional-strategic capability would be incapable, by itself, 
of deterring a nuclear-armed Soviet Union. Instead, surrogate technologies could 
provide some European states with a mechanism for threatening escalation, 
which could come to encompass a strategic exchange between the superpowers. 
Long-range conventional strike systems could thus come to possess a quality sim- 
ilar to the one commonly ascribed to the force de frappe — a trigger mechanism for 
ensuring that in the event of war in Europe the superpowers would not remain 
as sanctuaries, safe from the ravages of war. Viewed in these terms, the surro- 
gate technologies would not offer Europeans escalation autonomy, for deter- 
rence would ultimately reside with the American strategic arsenal. Instead, their 
deployment would enable the Alliance to parcel out control of the escalation pro- 
cess. 17 Thus, paradoxically, the effect of surrogate technologies would not be to 
diminish the role of nuclear weapons in Alliance strategy, but to sustain the credi- 
bility of extended deterrence in a period of superpower strategic parity. 18 

17. Not all NATO members possess a perceived interest in obtaining a modicum of escalation 
autonomy. The smaller states, especially those in exposed positions like Norway, are wary of 
acquiring long-range systems that could potentially strike targets in the Soviet Union. For a dis- 
cussion of the idea of "parceling out" deterrence, see Johan Hoist's chapter in Hoist and Ner- 
lich, Beyond Nuclear Deterrance. 

18. This argument tends to highlight the more general tension between the efforts to maintain 
the credibility of extended deterrence and the possible impact of these policies on the nuclear 
decisions taken by nonnuclear nonaligned states. A common criticism of Western reluctance to 
renounce the first use of nuclear weapons and the American "flexible options" nuclear target- 
ing doctrine is that these policies tend to emphasize the salience of nuclear threats for securing 
defense which are liable to be emulated by would-be nuclear states. While this argument might 
contain an element of truth, the alternative would be to restrict the role of nuclear weapons in 
Alliance strategy. This would not have unpredictable consequences vis-a-vis the Soviet Union, 


For the United States, increased escalation autonomy for Western Europe 
would come at the expense of decreased escalation control. This price might be 
seen as worth paying if the alternative is understood to be the further prolifera- 
tion of independent European nuclear capabilities. 

Strategic Conventional Weapons and the Nonnuclear World 

The possible spread of nuclear surrogate technologies to nonnuclear, nonaligned 
states raises a different set of problems. At present, over sixty states, many of 
them nonaligned, possess supersonic strike aircraft that might be used to deliver 
nuclear weapons against strategic targets in the homeland of an adversary. 
Many of these aircraft, of course, can also deliver punishing strikes against urban, 
industrial and military targets with conventional munitions, but during the 
next decade the proliferation of a new generation of precision strike systems — 
air- and surface-launched cruise missiles and remotely piloted vehicles — could 
usher in a new era of strategic conventional warfare. Armed with fuel-air explo- 
sives or advanced point munitions, these weapons will enable states to threaten 
intolerable damage against soft and even hard targets of an adversary without 
resort to nuclear blackmail. As shown in Table 1, the technology for creating 
such delivery capabilities is becoming widely available in the form of several 
categories of advanced missiles now under development in the West and the 
Soviet Union. While most of these missiles are not being procured for strategic 
missions, the guidance systems, the motors and the air-frames of many of them 
could be exploited for such roles. And as the list of suppliers of advanced missiles 
has grown, so has the number of recipients. In just one category — anti-shipping 
missiles — over thirty-five nonnuclear states either possess or have on order 
advanced systems under production by the nations shown in Table l. 19 

Will nonnuclear states rush to deploy conventional strategic weapons and, 
if so, how will the rules of conventional deterrence operate? As Roberta Wohl- 
stetter has pointed out, the essential quality of nuclear weapons is that they are 
understood to be weapons of mass destruction; they possess the quality of in- 
discriminateness. 20 In the past, other avenues of mass destruction such as bio- 

but it would set off new pressures for proliferation within the Alliance. The tension between 
managing intra-Alliance and extra-Alliance proliferation was perhaps most acute in the late 
1960s, when Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, while elaborating a narrower role for stra- 
tegic weapons via the assured destruction concept, pressured allies to sign and ratify the NPT. 

19. See "New Naval Weapons Technologies," Strategic Survey 1975 (London: IISS), p. 23. 

20. Roberta Wohlstetter, "Terror on a Grand Scale," Survival May/June 1976, p. 101. 


Table 1 

Development of Advanced Conventionally-Armed Missiles (1976) 

(D = under development; S = in service) 





































W. Germany 






















Note: These are missiles under development or in service which potentially could be used in roles 
now assigned to nuclear-armed systems. For the purposes of this table, "advanced" refers to systems 
using seeker guidance, precision positioning, correlation guidance and stellar inertial guidance (but 
not other forms of inertial guidance). Not shown in the table are advanced systems which the 
countries listed have in service, but which were obtained from abroad and not developed indigen- 
ously. See Richard Burt, "New Weapons Technologies: Debate and Directions," Adelphi Paper No. 
126, (London: IISS, 1976). 

a) Includes only long-range, command-guidance missiles, though the AS-5 Kelt may have an active 

b) A TV-guided missile, the Rafael, is reported to be under development. 

logical weapons have been open to nonnuclear states, but these alternatives have 
generally not been exploited. This taboo against the acquisition and use of weap- 
ons of mass destruction remains relatively strong (perhaps even increasing) de- 
spite the growing systemic incentives to acquire nuclear weapons, and it could 
have a paradoxical effect on the introduction of conventional weapons capable of 
attacking strategic assets. While it is unlikely that states will obtain conven- 
tional weapons for "city busting'' operations, the discrimination offered by pre- 
cision-guided, specialized warheads may not be viewed as violating existing 
norms of warfare. Surrogate technologies will not come to possess the psycho- 
logical or the status value of nuclear arms, but the lack of stigma attached to 
their acquisition is likely to lead to their widespread proliferation. 

At first glance, the spread of strategic conventional weapons might be re- 


ceived with relative calm, for the ability of weaker states to increase the risks of 
aggression would appear to raise the threshold for conflict in nonnuclear regions. 
A stronger power, for instance, would be forced to think twice before precipitat- 
ing an incident along a border with a weaker neighbor who, while inferior in 
overall military terms, possessed the capability to destroy an air base or a hydro- 
electric plant within the stronger state's interior. But many of the familiar 
dilemmas one confronts in thinking about deterrence with nuclear weapons also 
apply in this case, if only on a lesser scale. If the stronger state chose to initiate a 
limited border conflict, the weaker state would be faced with a difficult choice: 
lacking an effective local defense capability, it could either submit to the stronger 
power or escalate by striking valuable targets in the enemy's homeland. If this lat- 
ter alternative were chosen, a local conflict would thus develop into a full-scale 
war; and the weaker state would then feel the full brunt of its adversary's power. 

Between more evenly matched adversaries, greater stability might be injected 
into military relationships by the mutual adoption of conventional deterrent 
capabilities that promised to raise the costs of minor conflicts. But the introduc- 
tion of the deterrence-defense dichotomy into the design of conventional forces 
could foster "defense on the cheap" tendencies on the part of governments, result- 
ing in an emphasis on longer-range strike capabilities at the expense of battle- 
field defense forces. The effect of such trip-wire conventional strategies, of course, 
might be to breed greater caution on the part of would-be aggressors, but it would 
also result in greater violence in the event of deterrence breaking down. In the 
case of potential adversaries possessing asymmetrical capabilities, the introduc- 
tion of conventional deterrent forces could produce far more unsettling effects. 
If a weaker state's decision to acquire long-range precision-strike options were 
met by a similar move by a stronger adversary, the weaker state would be likely 
to find itself doubly deterred: the threat of strategic retaliation would seem to 
rule out the actual use of long-range systems in wartime, while inferior battle- 
field forces would still be unable to cope with local attacks. In this situation, the 
mutual acquisition of conventional forces could act to heighten a state's sense 
of military inferiority which could ultimately lead to what the procurement of 
conventional deterrent forces sought to avoid — the acquisition of nuclear weap- 

But the introduction of conventional deterrent capabilities need not rein- 
force tendencies towards proliferation. This would very much depend on re- 
gional circumstances.' Some writers have speculated, for instance, that the desire 
of some states to achieve regional superpower status could play a major role in 


the decision to acquire nuclear weapons. It can also be argued, however, that 
states aspiring to regional hegemony possess strong interests in keeping nuclear 
weapons out of regional politics. Because of their destructive power, nuclear 
weapons tend to function as "equalizers" in relations between weaker and strong- 
er powers. For this reason, a would-be regionally dominant power such as Iran or 
Brazil might be expected to oppose the acquisition of nuclear weapons by neigh- 
bor states. Under these circumstances, potential regional superpowers might be 
prepared to countenance the procurement of conventional deterrent forces by 
their neighbors, recognizing that this is the lesser of two evils. 

If nuclear weapons do spread to new regions, strategic conventional forces 
might still fulfill important functions. As in the East-West context, long-range 
conventional options could raise the threshold for nuclear use in regional conflicts 
by providing nuclear powers with an additional step on the ladder of escalatory 
responses. It is even possible to imagine that these weapons could enable non- 
nuclear states to obtain some form of conventional counterforce capability. In 
this role, strategic conventional forces might be used by a regional or outside 
power to destroy, in a preemptive strike, the nuclear weapons fabrication and 
launch centers of an incipient nuclear state. It is difficult, however, to conceive 
of this actually happening. The logical candidates for the conventional preemp- 
tor role are the two superpowers, working together or alone. If working alone, it 
is unrealistic to expect either the United States or the Soviet Union to sit by 
and watch the other carry out a counterforce blow against an incipient nuclear 
power; witness, for example, the opposition the United States reportedly ex- 
pressed to possible Soviet plans to destroy Chinese nuclear facilities in the late 
1960s. 1 ' 1 While, in certain circumstances, the superpowers might be able to 
agree on the necessity of preemptive action, this would undoubtedly be viewed 
as an intolerable step by the rest of the world. On the regional level, the intro- 
duction of conventional preemptive capabilities could raise a host of uncertain- 
ties, particularly during a period when the task of distinguishing civilian nu- 
clear programs from weapons production activities is likely to become more 
difficult. The existence of conventional preemptive capabilities, moreover, would 
create strong incentives for an incipient nuclear state to accelerate the produc- 
tion of weapons in time of peace and, during severe crisis, to entertain using 
them in a preemptive strategy of its own against the conventional disarming 
capabilities of an adversary. 

21. John Newhouse, Cold Dawn (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973), pp. 164-165. 


Constraints on Conventional Anns Transfers 

If it seems that (a) incentives to acquire nuclear weapons, while growing, re- 
main relatively low, (b) the impact of new conventional weapons technologies 
may not necessarily add to the security of weaker states, and (c) strategic con- 
ventional weapons raise as many problems as they solve, then it is tempting to 
conclude that conventional arms transfers should be discouraged in their own 
right. This would be a mistake. While the linkage of new conventional tech- 
nologies and nuclear ambitions is unclear, the impact of decisions by supplier 
states to reduce substantially or to cut off arms exports to would-be nuclear na- 
tions can be forecast with much greater precision. The changing nature of United 
States military commitments has created new security concerns for such periph- 
eral allies as Taiwan, Pakistan and South Korea that, in turn, have led to an in- 
creased demand for American military equipment. In some cases, national leaders 
such as Pakistan's Prime Minister Bhutto and South Korea's President Park have 
publicly warned that the decision to go nuclear will be taken in the light of their 
success in obtaining adequate supplies of conventional equipment. Thus, arms 
suppliers appear to be caught on the horns of a dilemma in attempting to use con- 
ventional arms as a means of influencing the nuclear intentions of recipient states. 
It may be that making available new conventional weapons will provide no 
guarantee against states developing nuclear options, but a decision to deny con- 
ventional capabilities to would-be nuclear nations will probably hasten the 
process of proliferation. 

Concern over the conventional arms trade as a problem in its own right has 
spawned several suggestions of how supplier nations might reduce the volume of 
equipment moving into the non-industrial world. One recent report has argued 
that it is important that major arms suppliers cut back on the sale of high 
technology weapons because these weapons are more destructive than earlier 
models and because their transfer often entails an unwanted identification of in- 
terest between the supplier state and the recipient. 22 But as we have seen, the 
ultimate military impact of a new generation of anti-tank missiles, air defense 
systems and area weapons is unclear. While they are unlikely to offer a panacea 
to the defensive problems of threatened states, the interest in obtaining them 
shown by states such as Yugoslavia, Sweden and Pakistan points to the real pos- 
sibility that their deployment would not only raise the cost of aggression but, by 

22. "Controlling the International Arms Trade," Interim Report of the UNA-USA National 
Policy Panel on Conventional Arms Control, April 1976. 


minimizing collateral damage, might also reduce destruction in the event that 
conflict breaks out. The availability of longer-range precision-strike systems, in 
addition, would constitute a more effective deterrent to attack and, if employed, 
a less destructive alternative than crude, widescale conventional bombing and 
shelling operations. New weapons are not, by definition, more destructive 
weapons; by reducing unwanted damage, they are often more efficient. 

A more troubling problem is created by the impression of political commitment 
often fostered by the transfer of advanced military technology. The most visi- 
ble sign of American support for Iranian objectives, of course, has been the 
massive sales program conducted in recent years. But arms sales can also herald 
the decline of commitment; the United States transfer of billions of dollars of 
equipment to South Vietnam in the early 1970s symbolized the reduction of 
American support. If arms transfers do indeed convey a sense of commitment, it is 
all the more important to examine the possible impact of introducing constraints 
on such transfers. This is particularly true for the cluster of states — Taiwan, 
South Korea, Israel, South Africa and perhaps Chile — who presently face major 
threats to their continued existence. These "pariah states" are nuclear candidates 
not only because they might be forced to fight for survival, but also because other 
avenues to security — alliance, security guarantees and arms transfers — are 
increasingly unavailable. It would be an exaggeration to argue that the United 
States and other arms-suppliers must decide whether they choose to live in a 
world armed to the teeth with conventional weapons or crowded with nuclear 
powers. But the objective of nonproliferation must be balanced against desires to 
limit arms sales and decrease commitments. 

Directions for Policy 

Not unexpectedly, the relationship between conventional arms transfers and nu- 
clear proliferation appears enormously complex. The fact that there do not seem 
to be any hard and fast principles for using conventional arms in a strategy of 
nonproliferation does not mean that the two processes are not linked, only that the 
relationship is part of a more complicated equation involving the structure of 
the international system, the future of alliance guarantees, and the character of 
military technology. Consequently, the problem varies enormously from coun- 
try to country and is best approached on a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, some 
general guidelines for policy do emerge: 

First, it is essential to distinguish between the ability of conventional weapons 


to be substituted for nuclear roles and their ability to replace nuclear commit- 
ments. New conventional weapons may offer alternatives to the use of nuclear 
weapons, but they are unlikely to offer an effective substitute for the mainte- 
nance of nuclear guarantees. Indeed, an important contribution of improvements 
in nonnuclear weaponry may be to make existing guarantees more credible by 
providing nuclear guarantors with greater flexibility and discretion in extend- 
ing nuclear protection. Conventional weapons, including the surrogate technol- 
ogies, lack the deterrence value of nuclear weapons, and attempts to justify the 
withdrawal of nuclear arms from Western Europe or East Asia by pointing to the 
capabilities now available from nonnuclear weapons could have unpredicta- 
ble consequences. This seems especially true in the case of South Korea, where a 
growing desire to withdraw nuclear weapons is coupled with a wish to reduce the 
American military presence generally — actions that could trigger a decision by 
the Seoul regime to go nuclear. A possible means of balancing the desire to re- 
duce the American military presence on the Korean peninsula while curbing 
tendencies toward proliferation might be to de-couple the issues of nuclear 
weapons and American forces. Under one approach, most of the 42,000 American 
troops might leave the mainland, leaving behind the nuclear weapons under 
the custody of a small American force. In this case, the withdrawal of the bulk of 
the American contingent could be justified by making new conventional weap- 
ons available to the South Koreans. Another approach would be to take the 
opposite tack: the nuclear weapons could go, but the American forces would 
stay. In this way, the removal of nuclear weapons could be justified by the 
added punch provided by new conventional systems while evidence of the con- 
tinuing American commitment would be provided by the maintenance of exist- 
ing force levels. Neither of these strategies could guarantee that the Park regime 
would not be tempted to exercise a nuclear option at some time in the future, but 
both alternatives seem preferable to simply offering technology in lieu of Ameri- 
can weapons and manpower. As this case illustrates, there is no painless solu- 
tion to the problem of proliferation and a successful nonproliferation policy must 
seek to reconcile conflicting foreign policy objectives. 

Second, the argument that new conventional weapons may be better suited to 
enhancing, rather than replacing, the credibility of existing guarantees points to 
another paradoxical conclusion; viz., that arms transfers may have a more im- 
portant role to play after proliferation has occurred than before. While the avail- 
ability of specific items of conventional equipment is unlikely to satisfy many of 
the desires that might tempt a state to go nuclear, their existence could have an 
important impact in determining whether nuclear weapons would actually be 


used in the event of conflict. Thus, the transfer of conventional arms may have 
more utility in managing the process of proliferation than halting it. Since the 
mid-1960s, the emphasis that France has placed on nuclear weapons, in both 
force design and doctrine, has generally been seen by other Western govern- 
ments as a destabilizing factor in Alliance defense planning. Lacking balanced 
conventional forces able to respond to aggression in a graduated manner, it is 
feared that France would be forced to use nuclear weapons prematurely, thus 
setting off a more widespread nuclear exchange. As a result, Western observers 
have applauded the recent decision to expand spending on conventional forces 
revealed in the 1976-81 defense plan and statements by leading officials that 
French forces must be able to respond to a wider spectrum of threats." 3 Similarly, 
a suggestion that is increasingly heard is that the United States and other West- 
ern nations should supply China with advanced military equipment. The ar- 
gument is made that improved Chinese conventional capabilities would lessen 
the likelihood that a Sino-Soviet conflict would quickly pass the nuclear thresh- 
old. If and when new states acquire nuclear weapons, there will be a natural ten- 
dency for arms suppliers to punish them by, among other things, reassessing 
arms sale arrangements. If such a decision were to deprive new nuclear powers 
of their primary sources of conventional weapons, they could be driven to adopt 
a trip-wire nuclear posture. 

Third, while there is a case to be made for manipulating conventional arms 
transfers to lower the incentives to acquire and to use nuclear weapons, this 
should not lead to a neglect of other avenues of nonproliferation. The emphasis 
now given to influencing the intentions of would-be nuclear powers is largely 
due to a popular view that it is no longer possible to constrain nuclear capabilities; 
the technology, materials, and expertise for fashioning crude weapons, it seems, 
are already in the hands of many. But while this is true for some states, it is not 
true for all. In endeavouring to alter nuclear intentions, it would be a mistake to 
abandon efforts to agree on more rigorous safeguards for the transfer of nuclear 
technology, to establish multinational fuel reprocessing facilities, and to explore 
mechanisms for greater cooperation among nuclear supplier nations. At the same 
time, a clear distinction should be maintained between attempts to limit capabili- 
ties and strategies to change intentions. This is clearly illustrated in the case of 
the Symington provision of the 1976 Arms Export Control Act, which, as outlined 

23. For an outline of the new French defense spending plan, see the May 23, 1976 issue of 
The Observer (London), p. 9. For evidence of greater emphasis in French doctrine on conven- 
tional contingencies, see statements by President Giscard d'Estaing and Chief of Staff Gen. Guy 
Mery reprinted in Survival, September/October 1976, pp. 226-229. 


previously, calls on the United States government to withhold economic and 
military assistance to a state that receives nuclear technology lacking appropriate 
international safeguards. Clearly, by linking United States assistance with the 
acceptance of restrictions placed on the use of nuclear technology, the provision 
is meant to control the transfer of capabilities. Yet, if used indiscriminately, it 
could also influence nuclear intentions. Deprived of American military equip- 
ment, an. insecure, would-be nuclear state might be driven to exercise that op- 
tion. In this way, the legislation could bring about the very outcome it sought 
to avoid. In the same way, the acquisition of the expertise and equipment to 
produce weapons-grade material should not necessarily be seen as a state's desire 
to obtain weapons. Premature efforts to manipulate nuclear intentions and capa- 
bilities by decreasing or increasing supplies of conventional equipment could 
backfire badly. A sudden embargo on arms transfers could foster nuclear am- 
bitions that did not otherwise exist, while a rapid infusion of new arms to a 
near-nuclear power could spark off similar ambitions on the part of rival powers. 
It is useful also to distinguish among the types of weapons that nonnuclear 
states are likely to acquire over the next decade. Despite the attention lavished 
on PGMs, cruise missiles and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs), the bulk of the 
arms trade will continue to be in traditional weapons such as tanks, aircraft and 
unguided munitions that are not only more destructive but appear more aggressive 
than anti-tank and air defense missiles. Proponents of conventional arms control, 
therefore, might be better rewarded by focusing their energies on regulating "old" 
rather than new technologies. Among the newer weapons, some systems are more 
provocative than others and it would not be prudent to offer long-range cruise 
missiles to meet defense requirements that could be satisfied by the deployment 
of precision-guided artillery. 

Finally, more attention should also be given to the impact on proliferation 
of treating the transfer of conventional arms as a problem in its own right. It is 
often noted that the sale of advanced aircraft has resulted in the spread to 
numerous nations of nuclear-capable delivery vehicles. Yet it is also recognized 
that acting unilaterally, states are unlikely to be successful in restricting the 
transfer of sensitive equipment in what is increasingly a buyers' market in arms. 
The Johnson Administration's embargo on supersonic aircraft to Latin America 
for example, failed to keep these systems out of the region because other sup- 
pliers moved in to fill the gap. But the limited progress of the suppliers' group 
of nuclear technology-exporting nations has led to the suggestion that a similar 
mechanism should be established to agree on guidelines for conventional arms 

37-189 O - 79 - 6 


like those being discussed in the context of nuclear exports. Reflecting the 
discussion in the nuclear area, some observers have also called for the creation 
of a conventional arms control cartel in order to blunt competition in the sale of 
equipment. For delivery vehicles and support systems, which are limited to use 
with nuclear (rather than conventional) explosives, these ideas might have some 
merit, although this is a small and steadily shrinking class of weapons. For 
dual-capable and conventional weapons generally, a suppliers' group arrange- 
ment not only appears politically infeasible, but also undesirable. It has already 
been seen that appearing to withhold conventional arms could serve to stimulate 
nuclear appetities. If undertaken on a multilateral basis, constraints on arms 
transfers would also heighten the general sense of discrimination felt so acutely 
in the non-industrial world. The nuclear suppliers' group discriminates, but, 
unlike the NPT system, it does so in private. The ability of this body to operate 
at the fringes of the international spotlight would be sacrificed by giving it, or a 
related group, new responsibilities like dividing up the market for conventional 
arms. A relatively innocuous, informal group would soon be perceived as a con- 
dominium of "have nations" working against the "have nots." Moreover, the 
task of achieving consensus on conventional arms transfer issues would be far 
more difficult than in the nuclear area. If the group became seriously divided 
over conventional arms policies and, at the same time, became a target for dis- 
satisfied members of the international system, attempts to regulate effectively 
the transfer of nuclear technology could easily go by the board. 



(TT Jimmy Carter 

JL have a deep personal concern 
with nudear energy and world or- 
der. I had training as a nuclear engi- 
neer, working in the United States 
Navy on our country's early nuclear 
submarine program. I learned how 
nuclear power can be used for 
peaceful purposes—for propelling 
ships, for generating electric power 
&nd for scientific and medical re- 
search. I am acutely aware of its 
potential— and its dangers. Once I 
helped in disassembling a damaged 
nuclear reactor core in an experi- 
mental reactor at Chalk River, Cana- 

From my experience in the Navy 
and more recently as Governor of 
Georgia, I have come to certain 
bask conclusions about the energy 
problem. The world has only 
enough oil to last about 30 to 40 
years at the present rate of consump- 
tion. It has large coal reserves— with 
perhaps 200 years of reserves in the 
United States alone. The United 
States must shift from oil to coal, 
taking care about the environmental 
problems involved in coal produc- 
tion and use. Our country must also 
maintain strict energy conservation 
measures, and derive increasing 
amounts of energy from renewable 
sources such as the Sun. 

U.S. dependence on nuclear 
power should be kept to the mini- 
mum necessary to meet our needs. 
We should apply much stronger 

safety standards as we regulate its 
use. And we must be honest with 
our people concerning its problems 
and dangers. 

I recognize that many other coun- 
tries of the world do not have the 
fossil fuel reserves of the United 
States. With the fourfold increase in 
the price of oil, many countries have 
concluded that they have no imme- 
diate alternative except to concen- 
trate on nuclear power. 

But all of us must recognize that 
me widespread use of nuclear 
power brings many risks. Power re- 
actors may malfunction and cause 
widespread radiological damage, 
unless stringent safety requirements 
are met. Radioactive wastes may be 
a menace to future generations and 
civilizations, unless they are effec- 
tively isolated within the biosphere 
forever. And terrorists or other crimi- 
nals may steal plutonium and make 
weapons to threaten society or its 
political leaders with nuclear vio- 
lence, unless strict security measures 
are developed and implemented to 
prevent nuclear theft. 

Beyond these dangers, there is the 
fearsome prospect that the spread of 
nuclear reactors will mean the 
spread of nuclear weapons to many 
nations. By 1990, the developing 
nations alone will produce enough 
plutonium in their reactors to build 
3,000 Hiroshima-size bombs a year; 
and by the year 2000, worldwide 
plutonium production may be over 
1 million pounds a year— the equiv- 

Carter, Jimmy E. Three steps toward nuclear 
responsibility. In Bulletin of the atomic 
scientists , Jan. 1977, pp. 28-41. Copy- 
right material reproduced with permission 
of copyright holder. 


alent of 100,000 bombs a year— 
about half of it outside of the United 

This prospect of a nuclear future 
will be particularly alarming if a 
large number of nations develop 
their own national plutonium re- 
processing facilities with the capaci- 
ty to extract plutonium from the 
spent fuel. 

Even H such facilities ait subject 
to inspection by the International 
Atomic Energy Agency and even if 
the countries controlling them are 
parties to the Non-Proliferation 
Treaty, plutonium stockpiles can be 
converted to atomic weapons at a 
time of crisis, without fear of effec- 
tive sanction by the international 

The reality of this danger was 
highlighted by the Indian nuclear 
explosion of May 1 974, which pro- 
vided a dramatic demonstration that 
the development of nuclear power 
gives any country possessing a re- 
processing plant a nuclear weapons 
option. Furthermore, with the ma- 
turing of nuclear power in the ad- 
vanced countries, intense competi- 
tion has developed in the sale of 
power reactors, which has also in- 
cluded the sale of the most highly 
sensitive technologies, including re- 
processing plants. With the spread 
of such capabilities, normal events 
of history — revolutions, terrorist at- 
tacks, regional disputes, and dicta- 
tors — all could take on a nuclear 

Alvin Weinberg, former Director 
of the Oak Ridge National Laborato- 
ry and one of the most thoughtful 
nuclear scientists in the United 
States, was properly moved to ob- 
serve: "We nuclear people have 
made a Faustian bargain with socie- 
ty. On the one hand we offer an 
inexhaustible supply of energy, but 
the price that we demand of society 
for this magical energy source is 
both a vigilance and a longevity of 
our social institutions that we are 
quite unaccustomed to." 

Nuclear energy must be at the 
very top of the list of global chal- 
lenges that call for new forms of 

international action. These actions 
should be considered in three main 

We need new international action 
to help meet the energy needs of all 

countries while limiting reliance on 
nuclear energy. 

In recent years, we have had 
major United Nations conferences 
on environment, population, food, 
the oceans and the role of 
women — with habitat, water, de- 
serts, and science and technology 
on the schedule for the months and 
years immediately ahead. These are 
tentative first steps to deal with glo- 
bal problems on a global basis. 

Critics have been disappointed 
with the lack of immediate results. 
But they miss an important point: a 
new world agenda is emerging from 
this process, an agenda of priority 
problems on which nations must 
cooperate or abdicate the right to 
plan a future for the human condi- 

The time has come to put the 
world energy problem on that new 
agenda. Let us hold a World Energy 
Conference under the auspices of 
the United Nations to help all na- 
tions cope with common energy 
problems — eliminating energy waste 
and increasing energy efficiency; 
reconciling energy needs with en- 
vironmental quality goals; and shift- 
ing away from almost total reli- 
ance upon dwindling sources of 
non-renewable energy to the 
greatest feasible reliance on renew- 
able sources. In other words, we 
must move from living off our limit- 
ed energy capital to living within our 
energy income. 

Such a conference would have to 
be carefully prepared. Just as the 
World Food Conference provided us 
with a world food balance sheet, this 
conference could give us a world 
energy balance sheet. Just as the 
World Food Conference stimulated 
international cooperation in agricul- 
tural research and development, so 
a world energy conference could 
stimulate research and development 
in the field of energy. 


Existing international ventures ot 
energy cooperation are not global in 
scope. The International Energy 
Agency (IAEA) in Parts includes only 
some developed non-communist 
countries. The Energy Commission 
of the Conference on international 
Economic Cooperation does not in- 
clude countries such as the Soviet 
Union and China, two great produc- 
ers and consumers of energy. And 
the International Energy Institute 
now under study does not call for a 
substantial research and develop- 
ment effort. 

A World Energy Conference 
should not simply be a dramatic 
meeting to highlight a problem 
which is then forgotten. Rather, it 
should lead to the creation of new or 
strengthened institutions to perform 
the following tasks: 

• improve the collection and 
analysis of worldwide energy infor- 

• stimulate and coordinate a net- 
work of worldwide energy research 

• advise countries, particularly in 
the developing world, on the devel- 
opment of sound national energy 

• provide technical assistance to 
train energy planners and badly 
needed energy technicians; 

• increase the flow of investment 
capita! from private and public 
sources into new energy develop- 
ment; and 

• accelerate research and infor- 
mation exchange on energy conser- 

An international energy effort 
would also be the occasion to exam- 
ine seriously and in depth this fun- 
damental question: Is it really neces- 
sary to the welfare of our countries 
to become dependent upon a nucle- 
ar energy economy? If so, how de- 
pendent and for what purposes? 
Surety, there is a moral imperative 
that demands a worldwide effort to 
assure that if we travel down the 
nudear road we do so with our eyes 
wide open. 

Such a worldwide effort must also 
provide practical alternatives to the 

nuclear option. Many countries, 
parttcutarty in the developing world, 
art being forced into a premature 
nuclear commitment because they 
do not have the knowledge and the 
means to explore other possibilities. 
The world's research and develop- 
ment efforts are now focused either 
on nuclear energy or on the devel- 
opment of a diminishing supply of 
fossil fuels. 

More should be done to help the 
developing countries develop their 
oil, gas, and coal resources. But a 
special effort should be made in the 
development of small-scale technol- 
ogy that can use renewable sources 
of energy that are abundant in the 
developing world — solar heating 
and cooling, wind energy, and bio- 
conversion, an indirect form of solar 
energy that harnesses the sunlight 
captured by living plants. Using 
local labor and materials, develop- 
ing countries can be helped to pro- 
duce usable fuei from human and 
animal wastes, otherwise wasted 
wood, fast growing plants, and even 
ocean kelp and algae. Such meas- 
ures would be a practical way to 
help the poorest segment of humani- 
ty whose emancipation from grind- 
ing poverty must be our continuing 

And all countries could reap ben- 
efits from worldwide energy cooper- 
ation. The costs to any one country 
would be small if they were shared 
among nations; the benefits to each 
of us from a breakthrough to new 
energy sources anywhere in the 
world would be great. We have tried 
international cooperation in food re- 
search and it has paid handsome 
dividends in high-yielding varieties 
of com, wheat, rice and sorghum. 
We could expect similar benefits 
from worldwide energy coopera- 

The exact institutional formula for 
coping with energy effectively on a 
world level will require the most 
careful consideration. The Interna- 
tional Atomic Energy Agency is nei- 
ther equipped nor staffed to be an 
adviser on energy across the board; 
nor would it be desirable to add 


additional functions that might inter- 
fere with its vitally important work 
on nuclear safeguards and safely. 

One possibility to be considered 
at a WoHd Energy Conference 
would be the creation of a new 
World Energy Agency to work side 
by side with the International Atom- 
ic Energy Agency in Vienna. A 
strengthened International Atomic 
Energy Agency could focus on 
assistance and safeguards for nucle- 
ar energy; the new agency on re- 
search and development of non-nu- 
clear, particularly renewable energy 

We need new international action 
to limit the spread of nuclear weap- 

In the past, public attention has 
been focused on the problem of 
controlling the escalation of the stra- 
tegic nuclear arms race among the 
superpowers. Far less attention has 
been given to that of controlling the 
proliferation of nuclear weapons ca- 
pabilities among an increasing num- 
ber of nations. 

And yet the danger to world peace 
may be as great, if not greater, if this 
second effort of control should fail. 
The more countries that possess nu- 
clear weapons, the greater the risk 
that nuclear warfare might erupt in 
local conflicts, and the greater the 
danger that these could trigger a 
major nuclear war. 

To date, the principal instrument 
of control has been the Non- 
Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which en- 
tered into force in 1970. By 1976, 
95 non-weapons states had ratified 
the Treaty, including the advanced 
industrial states of Western Europe, 
and prospectively japan. In so 
doing, these nations agreed not to 
develop nuclear weapons or explo- 
sives. In addition they agreed to 
accept international safeguards on 
all theii peaceful nuclear activities, 
developed by themselves or with 
outside assistance, under agree- 
ments negotiated with the Interna- 
tional Atomic Energy Agency — a lit- 
tle appreciated, hut an unprecedent- 

ed step forward in the development 
of international law. 

Important as this achievement is, 
it cannot be a source of complacen- 
cy, particularly under present cir- 
cumstances. There are still a dozen 
or more important countries with 
active nuclear power programs 
which have not joined the Treaty. 
Hopefully, some of these nations 
may decide to become members; 
but in the case of several of them, 
this is unlikery until the underlying 
tensions behind their decision to 
maintain a nuclear weapons option 
are resolved. 

The NPT was not conceived of as 
a one-way street. Under the Treaty, 
in return for the commitments of the 
non-weapons states, a major under- 
taking of the nuclear weapons states 
(and other nuclear suppliers in a 
position to do so) was to provide 
special nuclear power benefits to 
treaty members, particularly to de- 
veloping countries. 

The advanced countries have not 
done nearly enough in providing 
such peaceful benefits to convince 
the member states that they are bet- 
ter off inside the Treaty than outside. 
In fact, recent commercial transac- 
tions by some of the supplier coun- 
tries have conferred special benefits 
on non-Treaty members, thereby 
largely removing any incentive for 
such recipients to join the Treaty. 
They consider themselves better off 
outside. Furthermore, while individ- 
ual facilities in these non-Treaty 
countries may be subject to interna- 
tional safeguards, others may not be, 
and India has demonstrated that 
such facilities may provide the capa- 
bility to produce nuclear weapons. 
As a further part of the two-way 
street, there is an obligation by the 
nuclear weapons states, under the 
Treaty, to pursue negotiations in 
good faith to reach agreement to 
control and reduce the nuclear arms 

We Americans must be honest 
about the problems of proliferation 
of nuclear weapons. Our nuclear 
deterrent remains an essential de- 
ment of world order in this era. 


Nevertheless, by enjoining sover- 
eign nations to forego nuclear weap- 
ons, we are asking for a form of 
self-denial that we have not been 
able to accept ourselves. 

I believe we have little right to ask 
others to deny themselves such 
weapons for the indefinite future 
unless we demonstrate meaningful 
progress toward the goal of control, 
then reduction and, ultimately, 
elimination of nuclear arsenals. 

Unfortunately, the agreements 
reached to date have succeeded 
largely m changing the build-up in 
strategic arms from a "quantitative" 
to a "qualitative" arms race. It is 
time, in the salt talks, that we 
complete the stage of agreeing on 
ceilings and get down to the center- 
piece of salt— the actual negotia- 
tion of reductions in strategic forces 
and measures effectively halting the 
race in strategic weapons technolo- 
gy. The world is waiting, but not 
necessarily for long. The longer ef- 
fective arms reduction is postponed, 
the more likely it is that other na- 
tions will be encouraged to develop 
their own nuclear capability. 

There is one step that can be taken 
at once. The United States and the 
Soviet Union should conclude an 
agreement prohibiting all nuclear 
explosions for a period of five years, 
whether they be weapons tests or 
so-called peaceful nuclear explo- 
sions, and encourage all other coun- 
tries to join. At the end of the five- 
year period the agreement can be 
continued if it serves the interests of 
the parties. 

I am aware of Soviet objections to 
a comprehensive treaty that does not 
allow peaceful nuclear explosions. I 
also remember, during the Kennedy 
administration, when the roles were 
reversed. Then the United States had 
a similar proposal that permitted 
large-scale peaceful explosions. 
However, in order to reach an ac- 
cord, we withdrew our proposal. 
Similarly, today, if the United States 
really pushed a comprehensive test 
ban treaty, I believe the United 
States and the world community 
could persuade the USSR to dispose 

of this issue and accept a compre- 
hensive test ban. 

The non-proliferation significance 
of the superpowers' decision to ban 
peaceful nuclear explosions would 
be very great because of its effect on 
countries who have resisted the 
Non-Prof iteration Treaty's prohibi- 
tion of peaceful nuclear explosives, 
even though they are indistinguisha- 
ble from bombs. 

A comprehensive test ban would 
also signal to the world the determi- 
nation of the signatory states to c .11 a 
halt to the further development or 
nuclear weaponry. It has been more 
than a decade since the Limited Test 
Ban Treaty entered into force, and 
well over 100 nations are now par- 
ties to that agreement. 

The United States and the Soviet 
Union have signed an agreement 
that would prohibit underground 
nuclear tests above 150 kilotons. 
This so-called threshold test ban 
treaty represents a wholly inade- 
quate step beyond the limited test 
ban. We can and should do more. 
Our national verification capabili- 
ties in the last 20 years have ad- 
vanced to the point where we no 
longer have to rely on on-site in- 
spection to distinguish between 
earthquakes and even very small 
weapons tests. 

Finally, such a treaty would not 
only be a demonstration on the part 
of the superpowers to agree to limit 
their own weapons development. As 
President Kennedy foresaw in 1963, 
the most important objective of a 
comprehensive treaty of universal 
application would be its inhibiting 
effect on the spread of nuciear 
weapons by prohibiting tests by 
every signatory state. 

We need new international action 
to make the spread of peaceful nu- 
clear power less dangerous. 

The danger is not so much in the 
spread of nuclear reactors them- 
selves, for nuciear reactor fuel is not 
suitable for use directly in the pro- 
duction of nuclear weapons. The far 
greater danger lies in the ifwead of 


facilities for the enrichment of urani- 
um and the reprocessing of spent 
factor fuel— because highly en- 
nched uranium can be used to pro- 
duce weapons; and because plu- 
tonium. when separated from the 
remainder of the spent fuel, can 
also be used to produce nuclear 
weapons. Even at the present earfy 
stage in the development of the nu- 
clear power industry, enough mate- 
rials are produced for at least a 
thousand bombs each year. 

Under present international ar- 
rangements, peaceful nudear facili- 
ties are sought to be safeguarded 
agamst diversion and theft of nucle- 
ar material by the International At- 
omic Energy Agency in Vienna. As 
far as reactors ve concerned, the 
tr+tmMior*i safeguards— which in- 
dude materials accountancy, sur- 
veillance and inspection- -provide 
tome assurance that the diverwon of 
a w$THhcan« amount of fisstonable 
matenaJ would be detected, and 
theret o * e he^p 10 deter disunion. 

Of course, as the civilian nudear 
power industry e xp and s arourd the 
gJobt. there writ be a coiretponding 
need 10 expand and improve the 
pert o nne f ard faculties oi {he «r*w- 
n*ton*i safeguards rvstem. TSe 
Unfled State* thoutd *u*a *j 
d e ca de o *d p r emi e to put ej peace- 
ful nucssw tacdtJes under iraema- 
bonei safeguard* to 4emonetr jet »Sat 
we too an prepaid to accept the 

The* would piece •ubetanaa/ ad- 

d ama n d t on *w te**pje*di 

Of #w UvlA. Wd ** L-rrftad 

tfcouej bear ft* ia* *er* ot *« 
coett of Mi txpamjon lit price 
we cannot aflord not to pay 

Ik* tn *w Ae*d of erirtchment and 
reproc e ssing, where the primary 

danger lies, the present international 
safeguards system cannot provide 
adequate assurance against the pos- 
sibility that national enrichment and 
reprocessing facilities will be mis- 
used for military purposes. 

The fact is that a reprocessing 
plant separating the plutonium from 
spent fuel literally provides a coun- 
try with direct access to nuclear 
explosive material. 

It has therefore been the consis- 
tent policy of the United States, over 
the course of several administra- 
tions, not to authorize the sale of 
either enrichment or reprocessing 
plants, even with safeguards. Re- 
centh/, however, some of the other 
principal suppliers of nuclear equip- 
ment have begun to make such 

In my rudgment n is absolutely 
essential to halt the sale of such 

Conskierattons of commercial 
proftt cannot be allowed to prevail 
over rhe paramount objective of lim- 
iting the spread of nuclear weapons. 
The heads of gcvernment of all the 
prinopeJ supplier nations hopefully 
wUl recognure thn dtngtr and share 
th«s view. 

I am not seeking to place any 
mmctxxH on the sale oi nuclear 
pow*r reactors which se^ I for as 
much at $1 billion per reactor. I 
brliev* inat ail supplier countries 
are entjued to a Utr \ti*r* oi the 
reactor market. Vmaf we must prt- 
%*m. however, n rSe sate of small 
P»tot reproces s ing plants which sell 
tor onry a lew mWl«n dortars. have 
no commercial u*e M present, and 
can onry spread ixxMm expiotrves 
around the world. 

The International Atomic Energy 
Agency *se#, pursuant to the rec- 
ommendations of the Non-Profi- 


feratkxi Treaty review conference of 
1975, is currently engaged in an 
intensive feasibility study of multi- 
national fuel centers as one way of 
promoting the safe development of 
nuclear power by the nations of the 
world, with enhanced control result- 
ing from multinational participation. 

The Agency is also considering 
other ways to strengthen the protec- 
tion of explosive material involved 
in the nuclear fuel cycle. This in- 
cludes use of the Agency's hitherto 
unused authority under its charter to 
establish highly secure repositories 
for the separated plutonium from 
non-military facilities, following re- 
processing and pending its fabrica- 
tion into mixed oxide fuel elements 
as supplementary fuel. 

Until such studies are completed. 
I call on all nations of the world to 
adopt a voluntary moratorium on 
the national purchase or sale of en- 
richment or reprocessing plants. I 
would hope this moratorium would 
apply to recently completed agree- 

I do not underestimate the politi- 
cal obstacles in negotiating such a 
moratorium; but they might be over- 
come if we do what should have 
been done many months ago — bring 
this matter to the attention of the 
highest political authorities of the 
supplying countries. 

Acceptance of a moratorium 
would deprive no nation of the abili- 
ty to meet its nuclear power needs 
through the purchase of current re- 
actors with guarantees of a long- 
range supply of enriched uranium. 
Such assurances must be provided 
now by those supplier countries 
possessing the highly expensive fa- 
cilities currently required for this 

To assure the developing coun- 
tries of an assured supply of en- 
riched uranium to meet their nociear 
power needs without the need for 
reprocessing, the United Stales 
should, in cooperation with other 
countries, assure in adequate sup- 
ply of enriched uranium. 

We vhouid also give the most 
venous consideration to the estab- 
lishment of centralized multinatwrv 

af enochment Uolmes involving 
devetoptng countries' irrvr-Urrw-ni 
part Krrpat ion. m order to provide 
the assured supply of enriched ura- 
nium. And, <f one day, as their nu- 
clear programs economically justify 
use of plutonium as a supplementary 
fuel, similarly centralized multina- 
tional reprocessing services could 
equally provide for an assured sup- 
ply of mixed oxide fuel elements. 

It makes no economic sense to 
locate national reprocessing facili- 
ties in a number of different coun- 
tries. In view of economies of scale, 
a single commercial reprocessing fa- 
cility and a fuel fabrication plant will 
provide services for about 50 large 
power reactors. From an economic 
point of view, multinational facilities 
serving many countries are obvious- 
ly desirable. And the co-location of 
reprocessing, fuel fabrication and 
fuel storage facilities would reduce 
the risk of weapons proliferation, 
theft of plutonium during transport, 
and environmental contamination. 

There is considerable doubt with- 
in the United States about the neces- 
sity of reprocessing now for pluto- 
nium recycle. Furthermore, the li- 
censing of plutonium for such use 
is currently withheld, pending a full 
scale review by the Nuclear Regula- 
tory Commission of the economic, 
environmental, and safeguards is- 
sues. And there is a further question 
to be asked: If the United States does 
not want the developing countries to 
have commercial plutonium, why 
should we be permitted to have it 
under our sovereign control? 

Surely this whole matter of pluto- 
nium recycle should be examined 
on an international basis. Since our 
nation has more experience than 
others in fuel reprocessing, we 
should initiate a new multinational 
program designed to develop exper- 
imentally the technology, econom- 
ics, regulations and safeguards to be 
associated with plutonium recovery 
and recycle. The program could be 
developed by the United States in 
cooperation with the International 
Atomic Energy Agency. 


H the need for plutonium reproc- 
essing h eventually demonstrated 
—+nd ti mutually satisfactory 
ground rules for management 
and operation can be worked out 
— the first U.S. reprocessing plant 
which is now nearing completion in 
Barnwell, South Carolina, could be- 
come the first multinational reproc- 
essing facility under the auspices of 
the International Atomic Energy 
Agency. Separated piutonium might 
ultimately be made available to all 
nations on a reliable, cheap, and 
non-discriminatory basis after 
blending with natural uranium to 
form a low-enriched fuel that is un- 
suitable for weapons making. 

Since the immediate need for piu- 
tonium recycle has not yet been 
demonstrated, the start-up of the 
plant should certainly be delayed, to 
allow time for the installation of the 
next generation of materials ac- 
counting and physical security 
equipment which is now under de- 

One final observation in this area: 
We need to cut through the indeci- 
sion and debate about the long-term 
storage of radioactive wastes and 
start doing something about it. The 
United States could begin by prepar- 
ing all high-level radioactive wastes 
currently produced from our military 
programs for permanent disposal. 
Waste disposal is a matter on which 
sound international arrangements 
will clearly be necessary. 

The nuclear situation is serious, 
but it is not yet desperate. Most 
nations of the world do not want 
nuclear weapons. They pan-'culsrry 
do not want their neighbors to have 
nuclear weapons, but they under- 
stand that they cannot keep the op- 
tion open for themselves without 
automatically encouraging their 
neighbors to "keep options open" or 

h is this widespread understand- 
ing that it is not in the interest of 
individual nations to "go nuclear" 
which we must use as the basis of 
our worldwide efforts to control the 

atom. We must have negative 
measures — mutual restraint on the 
part of the producers and suppliers 
of nuclear fuel and technology. But 
these negative measures must be 
joined to the larger, positive efforts 
of the non-nuclear weapon states to 
hold the line against further prolife- 

The recent initiative of the Finnish 
government along these lines de- 
serves commendation. The Finns 
have urged a compact among the 
purchasers of nuclear fuel and tech- 
nology to buy only from suppliers 
who require proper safeguards on 
their exports. 

This proposal would convert the 
alleged advantages to a supplier of 
breaking ranks and offering "bar- 
gains" in safeguards into a commer- 
cial disadvantage. Instead of broad- 
ening his market by lowering his 
standards, the supplier would nar- 
row it. There would be fewer pur- 
chasers for his dangerous merchan- 
dise than if he maintained a com- 
mon front on safeguards with other 
suppliers. There would be competi- 
tion to offer to buyers the safest 
product atthe best price. 

Most important, the Finnish pro- 
posal would plainly put the full 
weight of the non-nuclear world into 
the effort against proliferation, ft 
would make it evident that this 
struggle is not a struggle by the 
nuclear "haves" to keep down the 
nuclear "have-nots." It would be a 
common effort by all mankind to 
control this dangerous technology, 
to gain time so that our political 
structures can catch up with sudden, 
enormous leaps in our technical 
knowledge, to turn us around and 
head us in the right direction— 
toward a world from which nuclear 
weapons and the threat of nuclear 
war have been effectively eliminat- 
ed. That may be a distant goal, but it 
is the direction in which we must 

I have referred to the need for new 
international action in three areas: 

• action to meet the energy needs 
of all countries white limiting reli- 
ance on nuclear energy, 


• action to limit the spread of 
nuclear weapons, and 

• action to make the spread of 
peaceful nuclear power less dange- 

Of one thing I am certain— the 
hour is too late for business as usual, 
for politics as usual, or for diploma- 
cy as usual. An alliance for survival 
is needed— transcending regions 
and ideologies— if we are to assure 
mankind a safe passage to the 
twenty-* in* century. 

Every country, and the United 
States is no exception, is concerned 
with maintaining its own nationaJ 
security. But a mutual balance of 
terror is an inadequate foundation 
upon which to build a peaceful and 
stable woHd order. One of the great- 
est long-term threats tc the national 
security of every country now lies In 
me disintegration of trie internation- 
al order. Balance of power politics 
must be supplemented by world 
order politics if the foreign policies 
of nations are to be relevant to mod- 
em needs. 

The political leaders of all nations, 
whether they work within four-year 
election cycles or five-year plans, 
are under enormous temptations to 
promise short-term benefits to their 
people v* hile passing on the costs to 
other countries, to future genera- 
tions, or to our environment. The 
Earth, the atmosphere, the oceans 
and unborn generations have no po- 
litical franchise. But short-sighted 
policies today will lead to insupera- 
ble problems tomorrow. 

The time has come for political 
leaders around the world to take a 

larger view of their obligations, 
showing a decent respect for poster- 
ity, for the needs of other peoples 
and for the global biosphere. 

I believe the American people 
want this larger kind of leadership. 
In the last two years, I have visited 
virtually every one of our 50 states. I 
have found our people deeply trou- 
bled by recent developments at the 
United Nations. But they do not 
wpnt to abandon the United Na- 
tions; they want us to work harder to 
make it what it was created to be- 
not a cockpit for controversy but an 
instrument for reconciling differenc- 
es and resolving common problems. 
And they want U.N. agencies to 
demonstrate the same commitment 
to excellence, impartiality and effi- 
ciency they are demanding of their 
own government. 

We want to cooperate— not sim- 
ply debate. A joint program— 
whether on nuclear energy or other 
global problems— is infinitely pref- 
erable to sustained and destructive 
polemics. Our desire for global co- 
operation is prompted by America's 
confidence in itself, in our capacity 
to engage in effective cooperation, 
and upon the moral imperative that 
as human beings we must help one 
another K any of us is to survive on 
this planet. 

The nuclear age, which brings 
both sword and plowshare from the 
same source, demands unusual 
seJf-dtscipline of all nations. If we 
approach these problems with both 
humility and serf-discipline, we may 
yet reconcile our twin goals of ener- 
gy sufficiency and world order. D 


Barry M. Casper 

Thus warned a Los Alamos scientist 
two years ago when asked by a 
reporter to comment on the concept 
of using lasers to separate the iso- 
topes of uranium [1 ]. If his prognosis 
is correct, then the world received 
ominous news last year with two 
reports of significant advances to- 
ward making this concept a reality. 

At the American Physical Society 
meeting in February 1976, two re- 
searchers from the Los Alamos Sci- 
entific Laboratory, C. Paul Robinson 
and Reed j. Jensen, presented exper- 
imental results that demonstrate the 
promise of one approach to laser 
isotope separation. Soon thereafter, 
in March, a private consortium, Jer- 
sey M uclear-Avco Isotopes, Inc., ap- 
plied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission for a license to move 
beyond the laboratory and build a 
$15 million facility for large-scale 
experiments with another approach. 
Representatives of both groups have 
stated publicly that they now antici- 
pate commercial laser enrichment 
plants in operation by the mid- 

Laser isotope separation may pro- 
vide a much cheaper, much easier 
means for obtaining enriched 
uranium — to fuel nuclear power 
plants or to build nuclear bombs. Of 
immediate concern is the prospect 
that it could promote easy access to 
nuclear weapons by many countries 
that do not now possess them. As 
Paul Robinson noted in an earlier 
paper on this work: 

Our predicted cost reduction for estab- 
lishing uranium enrichment plants using 
laser methods is such that, if validated, it 
could cause a worsening of the nuclear 
weapons proliferation problem. Where- 
as the AEC (now erda) had put a heavy 
emphasis on physical control and safe- 
guarding of special nuclear material, the 
possibility of producing high enrich- 
ments in small, lower cost plants is 
expected to seriously impair this line of 
defense [2]. 

Of course, laser isotope separation is 
not the only possible avenue to nu- 
clear proliferation. Other techniques 
are available to enrich uranium, and 
nuclear reactors themselves produce 
plutonium which can be used to 
make bombs. 

With a burgeoning nuclear power 
industry exporting plants to every 
corner of the globe, the possibility of 
national or sub-national groups di- 
verting plutonium has become a 
subject of serious concern at the 
highest levels of government. As 
Robinson suggests, considerable at- 
tention is being directed to physical 
control and safeguarding of the plu- 
tonium. In September 1975 at the 
United Nations, for example, Secre- 
tary of State Henry Kissinger an- 
nounced U.S. support for a plan to 
develop multinational reprocessing 
facilities (where plutonium pro- 
duced in reactors is chemically ex- 
tracted) as a step toward controlling 
access to plutonium. Both the U.S. 
Arms Control and Disarmament 
Agency and the International Atom- 
ic Energy Agency are now investi- 

a new path to 
atomic scientists, 

Casper, Barry M. Laser Enrichment: 
proliferation In Bulletin of the 
Oct. 1976, p. 8-14. Copyright material reproduced 
•with permission of copyright holder. 


gating practical steps to implement 
this proposal. Others have seriously 
advocated outlawing reprocessing 

Such institutional arrangements 
could be undermined, however, by 
the development of laser isotope 
separation. The U.S. government is 
seemingly in a position of working 
against itself. While the State De- 
partment is seeking to block one 
path to proliferation, erda labora- 
tories and government-regulated 
private industry are hard at work on 
a new technology that could open 

It is clear that the proliferation 
implications of laser isotope separa- 
tion have heretofore not been fac- 
tored in a serious way into the deci- 
sions to proceed with this research. 
It is also clear that the United States 
does not now have a comprehensive 
policy that deals with all potentially 
important paths to proliferation, in- 
cluding laser enrichment. 

There is still time to stop and 
consider whether laser enrichment 
should be developed, in light of its 
broader consequences. But this will 
not happen if the decisions are left 
exclusively in the hands of those 
promoting the technology. It is just 
this sort of situation that prompted 
the creation of several government 
institutions to provide independent 
assessments of new technologies. 
The Office* of Technology Assess- 
ment, the Nuclear Regulatory Com- 
mission, and the Arms Control and 
Disarmament Agency all have the 
authority to intervene. Laser enrich- 
ment provides a good test of these 
institutions and of the viability of the 
concept of "technology assess- 
ment." At this point, unfortunately, 
there is little reason for optimism. 

The most that is likely to happen is 
that laser isotope separation work 
will be heavily classified by the En- 

ergy Research and Development 
Administration (ERDA). But such a 
policy is not an effective deterrent in 
the long run to the use of laser 
enrichment for nuclear weapons 
proliferation. It may well be an ef- 
fective deterrent in the short run, 
however, to informed public discus- 
sion of this problem. 

If the Carter administration is seri- 
ously concerned with proliferation, 
it will have to consider measures to 
deal with laser enrichment that go 
beyond secrecy. One measure that 
deserves immediate consideration is 
a moratorium on the development of 
this technology. 

Status of Laser R&D 

In the United States, three labora- 
tories have substantial research and 
development programs in laser en- 
richment: Los Alamos Scientific 
Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore 
Laboratory (both sponsored by 
ERDA), and Avco-Everett Research 
Laboratory of Everett, Mass. (spon- 
sored principally by Exxon Nuclear 
Company, a wholly-owned affiliate 
of Exxon Corporation). All three pro- 
grams 'Were initiated in the early 
1970s and have been conducted 
largely in secret. Each has a staff of 
about a hundred people and an an- 
nual budget of $10 to $20 million. 

The principal focus of the re- 
search is uranium, which in its nat- 
ural state contains 0.7 percent of the 
isotope uranium-235 and 99.3 per- 
cent of the isotope uranium-238. For 
use as fuel in light water reactors 
(the kind used in nuclear power 
plants in the United States), the con- 
centration of the fissionable isotope 
of uranium, uranium-235, must be 
increased to approximately 3 per- 
cent, while for nuclear explosives it 
is typically increased to about 90 

The standard technology for pro- 


ducing such "enriched" uranium is 
the gaseous diffusion process, which 
requires enormous plants, typically 
costing $3 or $4 billion apiece, and 
consuming an enormous amount of 
electrical power, typically the 
equivalent of two or three large nu- 
clear power plants. Other enrich- 
ment technologies currently under 
development, including the gaseous 
centrifuge and aerodynamic pro- 
cesses, are likely to be comparably 
expensive, though a centrifuge plant 
will consume significantly less elec- 
trical power and an aerodynamic 
plant will likely require a significant- 
ly lower initial capital investment. 

Each of these processes requires 
that the uranium (in the form of 
uranium hexafluoride, 'hex' gas, 
UF 6 ) be passed through a number of 
successive stages (a "cascade") with 
a small degree of enrichment at each 
stage. For example, to produce 
reactor-grade uranium (3 percent 
uranium-235) from natural uranium 
requires a 1,200-stage cascade in a 
gaseous diffusion plant, while 
weapons-grade uranium (90 percent 
uranium-235) requires about 4,000 
successive stages. An aerodynamic 
enrichment plant will require a 
comparable number of stages (per- 
haps half as many). In the case of the 
gaseous centrifuge, far fewer stages 
are required, on the order of 10 to 
produce reactor-grade uranium and 
35 for weapons-grade uranium. 
However each gaseous centrifuge 
cascade has a very small capacity, 
so that literally hundreds of thou- 
sands of centrifuges are needed for a 
commercial-sized plant. The conse- 
quence of these factors is that com- 
mercial plants for all of these pro- 
cesses are very large, with very large 
initial capital costs. 

The advantage of the laser pro- 
cess, in principle at least, is that 
nearly complete separation of 
uranfum-235 and uranium-238 

might be accomplished in a single 
stage. Reactor-grade and perhaps 
even weapons-grade uranium could 
be produced in one pass through the 
apparatus. This holds promise of a 
much smaller commercial enrich- 
ment plant at a much lower cost, 
using much less energy to operate. 

What is not so promising, howev- 
er, is the potential advantage of laser 
isotope separation from the point of 
view of the proliferation of nuclear 
weapons. Because the enrichment 
in each stage is so small, neither a 
gaseous diffusion nor an aerody- 
namic enrichment plant can easily 
be scaled down very far from the 
size of existing commercial facilities 
and still produce weapons-grade 
uranium in a reasonable time. This 
will not be the case for laser enrich- 
ment, where a cascade to produce 
weapons-grade uranium will consist 
of only one, or at most a few, stages. 
A plant to produce a few bombs a 
year could consist ot just enough 
cascades to turn out the requisite 
weapons-grade material. It could 
therefore be far smaller than a full- 
sized commercial facility and re- 
quire a comparably smaller invest- 
ment and effort to construct. Al- 
though the gaseous centrifuge pro- 
cess also requires a short cascade, so 
that a scaled-down plant could be 
constructed for a small weapons 
program with this process, the laser 
process holds promise of being a 
simpler, cheaper, and more accessi- 
ble technology than gaseous centri- 

For these reasons laser isotope 
separation may prove to be a much 
more significant path to nuclear pro- 
liferation than other enrichment pro- 
cesses. It may even turn out to be a 
more significant path than diversion 
of plutonium from nuclear power 
plants. Of course, at this time one 
can only speculate on these matters 
since laser isotope separation is still 


in the process of being developed. 

With this as background, let us 
consider briefly the current status of 
the research effort in the United 
States. Any remarks on this subject 
must necessarily be prefaced by a 
reminder that ver, little information 
has been released to the public, and 
even that may be out of date. For 
example, on May 28, 1975, the 
group from Avco-Everett Research 
Laboratory presented results of its 
efforts at a conference on laser engi- 
neering. The striking feature of this 
paper was that it reported on experi- 
ments performed four years before, 
in July 1971. It gives no hint of any 
progress in the intervening period. 
Perhaps the latest information avail- 
able on the Avco project is a patent 
granted in February 1976; it pertains 
to work completed more than three 
years earlier. 

Laser enrichment research cur- 
rently centers on two competing ap- 
proaches. The groups at Avco and 
Livermore are working on atomic 
uranium, while Los Alamos is con- 
centrating on a uranium molecule, 
uranium hexafluoride, UF 6 . The 
basic idea of the two approaches — 
atomic and molecular — is very 
much the same; but the engineering 
problems they present are very dif- 

The Atomic Approach. In this ap- 
proach uranium metal is first vapo- 
rized and the uranium vapor is then 
exposed to laser light. The separa- 
tion of the uranium-235 and 
uranium-238 isotopes can be under- 
stood as the three-step process — 
excitation, ionization and separa- 
tion — which is illustrated schemati- 
cally in Figure 1 in the accompany- 
ing sidebar to this article. In the first 
step the uranium vapor is illuminat- 
ed with laser light of just the right 
wavelength to excite the uranium- 
235 atoms, but not the uranium-238 
atoms. In the second step, the vapor 

is illuminated with light from a sec- 
ond laser which has sufficient ener- 
gy to ionize the excited uranium- 
235 atoms, but not the unexcited 
uranium-238 atoms. In the third 
step, an electric field sweeps the 
uranium-235 ions onto a collecting 
plate. This process is illustrated and 
explained in more detail in the fig- 
ures and the sidebar. 

How this process came to be de- 
veloped in the United States is the 
story of the fortuitous meeting of a 
technically sweet idea and the tech- 
nology required to implement that 
idea. The basic notion of photose- 
lecting isotopes is actually a very old 
idea, dating back to experiments 
with the isotopes of mercury in the 
1930s. But it was not until the ad- 
vent of the laser in the early 1960s 
that interest was revived. In 1963, a 
French group filed patent on a pro- 
cess to use lasers to separate the 
isotopes of uranium, employing the 
molecular approach [3]. However 
this was the time when lasers were 
just being developed and no isotope 
separation was ever claimed by that 
group. In the late 1960s, a young 
Israeli physicist, Isiah Nebenzahl, 
began studies at Haifa on the atomic 
approach to laser enrichment of ura- 
nium [1, 4]. 

At an international nuclear phys- 
ics conference in Heidelberg in July 
1969, Amos De-Shalit, a leader of 
Israeli science, mentioned the idea 
in general terms to MIT physicist Lee 
Grodzins, indicating that promising 
work was going on in France and 
Israel. At that time Grodzins was a 
consultant to Avco-Everett Research 
Laboratory. He suggested to Richard 
Levy, a staff scientist at Avco, that 
laser isotope separation might be 
worth investigating. Much to Grod- 
zins' surprise, Levy immediately re- 
acted with great enthusiasm. Al- 
though it had not been announced 
publicly, Avco had been developing 


the very device that would make 
laser isotope separation practical — 
the tunable dye laser. Levy recog- 
nized the enormous commercial po- 
tential of laser enrichment of urani- 
um and began intensive research in 
collaboration with G. Sargent janes 
at Avco. 

Within six months, in March 
1970, Levy and Janes had filed a 
patent application and by the fol- 
lowing July they had produced min- 
ute quantities of enriched (50 per- 
cent) uranium in a single pass 
through their apparatus. The Levy- 
Janes patent is a lucidly written 
"primer" of laser enrichment of ura- 
nium [5]. By February 1972, Avco 
had convinced the Exxon Corpora- 
tion (then Standard Oil of New Jer- 
sey) of the promise of laser enrich- 
ment and-a jointly-owned company 
(80 percent Exxon Nuclear Compa- 
ny and 20 percent Avco Corpora- 
tion), Jersey Nuclear Avco Isotopes, 
Inc. was formed to develop this 
technology. Since that time the Avco 
group has proceeded to build a large 
test facility, achieving 6 percent en- 
richment in high density experi- 
ments. As already noted, Jersey Nu- 
clear recently applied to the U.S. 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission for 
a license to build an even larger $15 
million test facility at Richland, 
Washington, with plans to convert 
this facility into a pilot plant in the 
early 1980s. 

To be sure, many problems re- 
main. Reliable high-powered lasers 
need to be produced, procedures for 
processing and recycling or dispos- 
ing of huge quantities of dye and 
solvents have to be developed, and 
various difficulties associated with 
efficiently using the laseV light to 
produce charged uranium-235, 
avoiding the production of charged 
uranium-238 by other mechanisms, 
and extracting a large fraction of the 
laser-produced ions have to be over- 

come. These are but a few of many 
formidable engineering problems 
that will have to be solved if the 
process is to be scaled up to com- 
mercial viability. Nevertheless, at 
the American Physical Society meet- 
ing in February, Richard Levy, now 
vice president of Exxon Nuclear 
Company, predicted an operating 
commercial plant in 1986 [6]. 

Researchers at erda's Lawrence 
Livermore Laboratory have also 
been concentrating on an atomic 
approach, using an oven rather than 
an electron beam to vaporize the 
uranium metal. Although they have 
reported separating milligram quan- 
tities of reactor-grade uranium in 
laboratory-scale experiments, they 
seem to be well behind Avco in 
developing a large-scale process. In 
their competition with Los Alamos 
for federal support, they also appear 
to be faring poorly. The Joint Com- 
mittee on Atomic Energy's report on 
funds to be authorized to ERDA in 
fiscal year 1977 sounded an omi- 
nous warning to Livermore: 

The Joint Committee notes that there are 
programs in this technology being con- 
ducted within private industry which are 
not within the purview of the erda 
program. It is understood, further, that 
one or more of these programs may be 
more advanced than the erda program. 
It would not be a justifiable expenditure 
of the Government's money to allow 
erda to duplicate such programs. 
Therefore, the Joint Committee encour- 
ages erda to examine carefully its inter- 
nal programs in comparison with on- 
going commercial programs and to 
make such adjustments as necessary to 
assure no duplication of effort in the 
pursuit of technological objectives 
which may already be achieved outside 
the erda laboratories [7]. 

In response to this pressure, there 
are indications that the Livermore 
effort will shift from direct competi- 
tion with Avco in developing a com- 
mercial process to produce reactor- 


grade uranium. Instead it may focus 
on using laser isotope separation for 
nuclear reactor waste clean-up and 
for weapons application, producing 
highly-enriched uranium and/or 
plutonium more concentrated in the 
plutonium-239 isotope. 

The Molecular Approach, The 
idea of this process, which is under 
investigation at erda's Los Alamos 
Scientific Laboratory, is very much 
the same as the atomic approach, 
except that it is molecules of urani- 
um hexafluoride, UF 6 , that are ex- 
posed to the laser light rather than 
uranium metal. The molecules of the 
'hex' gas can absorb the laser light, 
thereby increasing their internal en- 
ergy. An important difference be- 
tween the molecular and atomic ap- 
proaches is that typical internal en- 
ergies of molecular vibration are 
about one hundred times smaller 
than the internal energies of atoms. 
This means that infrared lasers 
(whose light is composed of very 
low energy "photons") are used to 
excite molecules, whereas visible or 
ultraviolet lasers are used for atomic 

If the molecules were at a very 
low temperature, near absolute 
zero, they would not be vibrating to 
begin with, and by adjusting the 
wavelength of the infrared laser 
light, one could excite the mole- 
cules of the gas containing one iso- 
tope of uranium but not the other. 
Cooling uranium hexafluoride to 
such low temperatures presents 
practical problems, however. For 
one thing, under such conditions it 
is ordinarily a solid, so it would be 
difficult to effect a physical separa- 
tion. In practice, one has to work 
with uranium hexafluoride at tem- 
peratures above 57°C (1 35°F), where 
it is a gas. But at these temperatures 
the molecules are already vibrating 
so much that it is impossible to sort 
out those containing one isotope of 
uranium from those containing the 

other by adding a little bit of energy 
with laser light. 

This is the dilemma that confront- 
ed the Los Alamos group. On the 
one hand, one wants the uranium 
hexafluoride molecules to be at a 
very low temperature so they would 
stop vibrating; on the other hand 
one has to operate at temperatures 
somewhat above normal room tem- 
perature, where uranium hexafluo- 
ride is a gas. 

In February 1976, Robinson and 
Jensen announced that their group 
at Los Alamos has overcome this 
problem [8]. They mix the 'hex' gas 
with another gas such as helium or 
nitrogen and allow the mixture to 
expand supersonically through a 
nozzle. As is well known, the tem- 
perature of a gas allowed to expand 
decreases; this is the basts of stan- 
dard techniques for liquefying gases. 
Under the proper conditions of su- 
personic expansion, the uranium 
hexafluoride molecules, so far as 
their vibrations are concerned are 
cooled to very low temperatures, 
while retaining the physical proper- 
ties of a gas of independent mole- 
cules. If this gas is exposed to laser 
light of the proper wavelength, the 
molecules containing one or the 
other isotope of uranium can be 
selectively excited. 

To demonstrate the success of this 
technique, Robinson and Jensen 
presented the experimental results 
shown in Figure 3. This shows how 
much light is transmitted by the gas 
for various frequencies of the laser 
light. When the transmission curve 
in the figure dips down at a given 
frequency, it means that laser light of 
that frequency has just the right en- 
ergy to excite a uranium hexafluo- 
ride molecule; hence the light is 
absorbed by the gas, not transmitted 
through it. What Robinson and 
Jensen and their colleagues at Los 
Alamos have shown is that certain of 
the dips in the figure correspond to 

37-189 O - 79 


Atomic approach to 
laser isotope separation 


Laser light 


The atomic approach to separating isotopes of uranium-235 and 
uranium- 238 can be understood as the three-step process illustrated 
schematically in Figure 1. 

- • Excitation. The uranium metal is first vaporized by heating h to a 
very high temperature (on the order of 2,300° C). The uranium vapor, 
containing atoms of both uranium-235 and uranium-238, is then 
exposed to light from a tunable dye laser, which has the remarkable 
property that its wavelength can be adjusted very precisely. If the 
proper wavelength is chosen, the light will be absorbed by the atoms 
of one of the uranium isotopes, say uranium-235, and not absorbed 
by the atoms of the other isotope. In this way, the energy carried by 
the light can be selectively pumped into the uranium-235 atoms, 
leaving them in an "excited" state, while the uranium-238 atoms 
remain in their normal "unexcited" state. 

• Ionization. If the vapor is then immediately illuminated by light 
of the appropriate wavelength from a second laser, the energy 
absorbed by the atoms will be sufficient to kick an electron out of the 
excited uranium-235 atoms, but not out of the unexcited uranium- 
238 atoms. This leaves the uranium-235 atoms electrically charged 
("ionized") and the uranium-238 atoms neutral. 

• Separation. Application of an electric field can then be used to 
sweep away the charge^ uranium-235 ions, thereby physically sepa- 
rating the isotopes. An apparatus employed for this process — the 

■ mm 



This approach to laser 
enrichment of uranium can be 
viewed as a three-step 
process: excitation, ionization 
and separation. In the first 
step, excitation, uranium vapor 
is illuminated with laser light 
of just the right wavelength to 
excite the uranium-235 atoms, 
but not the uranium-238 
atoms. In the second step, 
ionization, light from a second 
laser has sufficient energy to 
ionize the excited uranium-235 
atoms but not the unexcited 
uranium-238 atoms. And, 
finally, in the third step. .;. 
separation, an electric field 
sweeps the uranium-235 ions 
or atoms onto a collecting 

wide angle isotope separator— was described in a patent granted to 
Avco's Arthur Kantrowitz in February of 1976, and is illustrated in 
Figure 2.' 

Uranium metal, in the crucible in the figure, is vaporized by an 
electron beam which strikes the surface of the metal over a long thin 
line extending several meters into the page in the figure. The 
vaporized uranium expands radially away from the impact line. 
When the vapor enters the region within the dotted lines it is 
illuminated by excitation and ionization lasers pulsed in rapid 
succession, thereby ionizing the uranium-235 atoms, but not the 
uranium-238 atoms. An electric field, £ (created by means of applied 
magnetic and pulsed electric fields), then sweeps the uranium-235 
ions onto the collecting plates, labeled C in Figure 2. The entire 
system is enclosed in a vacuum chamber. The collected material, the 
"enriched" uranium, is then dissolved and dried to a powder. 

Laser enrichment— either by this atomic approach or by an alter- 
native "molecular" approach described in this article — may provide 
an easier and cheaper means for obtaining enriched uranium (that is, 
uranium in which the percentage of the fissile isotope, uranium-235, 
has been increased) to fuel nuclear power plants or to build nuclear 







This figure illustrates an apparatus to 

implement an atomic approach to laser 

isotope separation. Metallic uranium. 

vaporized by an electron beam, is 

illuminated with excitation and 

ionization lasers as it passes through 

the dotted region, thereby selectively 

ionizing the uranium-235 atoms. An 

electric field. E. then sweeps the 

jranium-235 ions onto one of a series of 

collecting plates. C. 

Vacuum chamber 

Uranium metai 

/ I beam 
/ source 

January 1977 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist* 33 


Increasing frequency 



Researchers at Los Alamos obtained these results when they illuminated 
•upersonically-expanded uranium hexafluoride gas with laser light of varying 
frequencies and measured how much of the light was transmitted through 
the gas. Some dips in the curve correspond to absorption of the light by 
uranium hexafluoride molecules containing the isotope uranium-238 and 
others to absorption by molecules containing uranium-235. This indicates 
that it is possible, to some degree, to selectively excite molecules containing 
one of the isotopes only. This is a necessary first step toward physical 
separation of the isotopes. 

excitation of molecules containing 
the isotope uranium-238 and others 
to excitation of molecules contain- 
ing uranium-235. 

For example, light of the frequen- 
cies labeled 2 and 4 in the figure 
is absorbed exclusively by mole- 
cules containing uranium-238. This 
means that by first supersonically 
expanding 'hex' gas and then expos- 
ing it to light at one of those frequen- 
cies, the molecules containing 
uranium-238 could be selectively 

This is clearly a significant devel- 
opment. These experimental results 
are encouraging evidence that the 

molecular approach holds the possi- 
bility of a clean separation of the 
uranium isotopes [9]. It now looks to 
be a promising avenue of research. 
This development should be 
viewed in perspective, however. 
The Los Alamos work is far from a 
commercial process. In fact, no iso- 
tope separation per se has yet been 
reported publicly. This will require 
illumination with a second laser, 
causing the exci.ted molecules to 
dissociate (break apart) or, alterna- 
tively, it will require a selective 
chemical reaction in which only the 
laser-excited molecules participate. 
Apparently the Los Alamos group is 


pursuing the former technique (pho- 
todissociation), and it is rumored to 
have succeeded in separating urani- 
um in very small amounts. Howev- 
er, scaling up the process to a point 
where large quantities of uranium 
can be enriched is a major task that 
Los Alamos has not yet begun to 
address seriously. The most obvious 
challenge in this regard is the funda- 
mental problem of developing 
high-powered tunable lasers in the 

This suggests that Paul Robinson's 
dramatic prediction of an operating 
commercial plant by 1983 may be 
premature. It may have been more 
closely tied to the politics of the 
congressional budget process than 
to the realities of engineering devel- 

Thus, at this point it appears that 
the Avco-Exxon atomic approach is 
considerably farther along toward 
commercial viability than the Los 
Alamos work. Nevertheless, the mo- 
lecular approach would seem to 
have certain potential advantages 
from a commercial standpoint: it 
may use significantly less energy 
than the atomic approach, where 
much energy is expended in vapo- 
rizing the uranium metal; a chemi- 
cal separation technique, if one can 
be found, could be advantageous in 
processing large quantities of mate- 
rial; and uranium hexafluoride may 
be a more preferable material to 
work with than uranium vapor, 
which is highly corrosive. 

There may also be differences in 
the two approaches from the prolife- 
ration standpoint. The molecular ap- 
proach may be more adaptable to 
producing weapons-grade material. 
In the atomic approach employed 
by Avco, it is difficult to avoid creat- 
ing some charged uranium-238 from 
the electron beam used to vaporize 
the uranium and the pulsed electric 
field used to collect the uranium- 

235, and to avoid "charge-ex- 
change" collisions between urani- 
um-235 ions and uranium-238 
atoms during the separation. This 
reduces the degree of enrichment in 
a single separation stage. In the mo- 
lecular approach there may be fewer 
problems of this sort, and conse- 
quently higher single stage enrich- 
ment, in working with the 'hex' gas 
at lower temperatures. Furthermore, 
it may be significantly easier to do 
multiple passes through the appara- 
tus with the molecular technique. 

This is the impression one gets in 
talking to Avco people. However, 
James Davis, director of the Liver- 
more project, disagrees: he asserts 
that "the atomic approach has the 
ability to give you higher enrich- 
ment" [10]. Presumably, this would 
require techniques specifically 
aimed at high enrichment, including 
vaporizing with an oven instead of 
an electron beam and alternative 
means of collecting the uranium- 
235 ions. 

Some Avco researchers have even 
expressed doubt that their apparatus 
coty/t/-generate weapons-grade ma- 
terial. But they admit that this may 
be because they have not really 
tried. Their efforts have been direct- 
ed toward developing a process 
for economically producing large 
amounts of reactor-grade material. 
They have not seriously studied the 
application of most significance to 
proliferation — producing in a small 
facility highly-enriched uranium for 
a few bombs a year. This might well 
be possible and, as suggested earli- 
er, there are indications Livermore is 
shifting the focus of its laser enrich- 
ment program at least in part toward 
weapons-grade material. 

Benefits and Risks 

This account has so far failed to 
touch extensively on the rationale 
behind the major effort that is going 


into developing this technology. 
ERDA and Exxon are obviously not 
consciously trying to promote prolif- 
eration. This suggests two questions: 
What are the expected benefits from 
these projects? How has the possible 
disbenefit of proliferation entered 
into the decisions to proceed with 

First consider the benefits. The 
principal rationale for developing 
this technology has been to produce 
fuel for the reactors of a rapidly 
expanding nuclear power industry. 
As noted earlier, laser isotope sepa- 
ration could provide a cheaper, less 
energy-intensive source of enriched 
uranium [11]. According to an ear- 
ly report of the Livermore group, 
"the potential savings for the la- 
ser process over the diffusion 
process . . . amount to about 100 
billion dollars between the year 
1980 and the year 2000" [12]. Paul 
Robinson of Los Alamos has noted 
the possible energy savings for the 
molecular approach: "This work, if 
completely successful, could reduce 
the energy requirement for uranium 
enrichment by a factor of 100 to 
1000" [2]. 

These are impressively large num- 
bers. If valid, they provide a strong 
incentive to those seeking to devel- 
op and market this technology. They 
may be overly optimistic, however. 
The projected economic savings, for 
example, are based on projections 
of nuclear power growth made three 
years ago. At that time it was pre- 
dicted that beginning in the mid- 
1980s the United States would have 
to build a large new enrichment 
plant every 18 months just to keep 
pace with new nuclear power plants 
coming on-line. This meant that 10 
new enrichment facilities, beyond 
the three already operating, would 
be required by the year 2000. 

Today, projections of future ener- 
gy consumption and, especially, nu- 

clear power demand are more un- 
certain. ERDA's own projection of 
nuclear power generating capacity 
has been revised downward and the 
Federal Energy Administration pre- 
dicts even less. A recent study by the 
Congressional Budget Office re- 
views these projections and consid- 
ers their implications for the re- 
quired enrichment capacity [13]. 
Depending on which assumptions 
are accepted concerning the growth 
of nuclear power and what policies 
are adopted regarding supply of nu- 
clear fuel to other countries and 
stockpiling of nuclear fuel in the 
near term, the Congressional study 
concludes that the number of new 
enrichment plants needed by the 
year 2000 could range anywhere 
from 2 to 10. 

To gauge the economic impact of 
laser enrichment on the nuclear 
power industry as a whole, it should 
be noted that the cost of enriching 
the fuel is only a small fraction (5 to 
10 percent) of the total power gene- 
ration cost. Thus, while the absolute 
dollar savings may be substantial, 
the development of laser enrichment 
will not result in a significant reduc- 
tion in the cost of electricity from 
nuclear power plants. Given this fact 
and the existence of alternative en- 
richment techniques, whether or not 
laser enrichment is developed is not 
likely to be a major factor in the 
long-term economic viability of nu- 
clear power. 

"Mining the Tails" 

In the mid-term, however, laser 
isotope separation might have a sig- 
nificant impact on the nuclear fuel 
supply. For economic reasons, pre- 
sent enrichment technologies do not 
completely extract the fissionable 
isotope, uranium-235, from the ura- 
nium fed into the process. At the end 
of the enrichment process, in addi- 
tion to the enriched uranium, there 


remain "tails," containing 0.2 to 0.3 
percent uranium-235. Since the nat- 
ural uranium that goes into the pro- 
cess contains 0.7 percent uranium- 
235, this means that approximately 
one-third of the uranium-235 is left 
in the tails. Laser isotope separation 
could conceivably make economi- 
cally feasible a nearly complete ex- 
traction of the uranium-235. 

This would have two beneficial 
consequences. First, it would in ef- 
fect "stretch" the uranium supply by 
40 to 75 percent, in the sense that a 
given amount of natural uranium 
would furnish that much more en- 
riched uranium. Second, it would 
make the enormous stockpile of ura- 
nium tails that have been accumu- 
lated by the enrichment facilities 
since World War II a usable source 
of nuclear fuel. The possibility of 
"mining the tails" was emphasized 
by the Los Alamos scientists at their 
press conference in New York last 

Just how important "mining the 
tails" might be to the nuclear indus- 
try depends on the economics and 
timing of this process vis-a-vis alter- 
native sources of fuel, including nat- 
ural uranium mining, the plutonium 
produced in light water reactors (if 
recycled), and the breeder reactor (if 
developed and deployed). It also 
depends critically on the rate of 
growth of nuclear power. This is 
clearly a complex issue, with con- 
siderable uncertainty associated 
with many of the factors. A detailed 
analysis will be required to assess 
whether this potential benefit of 
laser isotope separation is in fact 

Another potential source of nucle- 
ar fuel that might be included in 
surh an analysis is suggested by this 
discussion. If one is seriously con- 
sidering "mining the tails," contain- 
ing one-third of the uranium-235 in 
uranium enriched since World War 

II, one should also consider using a 
portion of the remaining two-thirds. 
A program of converting weapons- 
grade uranium in obsolete or other- 
wise expendable nuclear weapons 
to reactor-grade material could pro- 
vide a substantial source of fuel for 
nuclear power plants. Such a pro- 
gram has been suggested by Harold 
Agnew, director of Los Alamos Sci- 
entific Laboratory. He calls it "min- 
ing the stockpile" [14]. 

An intriguing aspect of this sug- 
gestion is the fact that the amount of 
uranium potentially available from 
the bombs is obviously comparable 
to that available from the tails (very 
roughly speaking, two-thirds of the 
uranium-235 went into bombs and 
one-third into tails). This suggests a 
useful exercise. One might directly 
compare "mining the tails" using 
laser isotope separation with "min- 
ing the stockpile" as sources of nu- 
clear fuel. This would involve tech- 
nical questions such as the feasibili- 
ty of each of these processes. It 
would involve economic questions 
such as their relative costs. It would 
also involve political and strategic 
questions such as which of the tens 
of thousands of nuclear weapons in 
the U.S. arsenal are "obsolete or 
otherwise expendable" and how the 
proliferation risks of laser isotope 
separation are to be weighed against 
its prospective benefits. 

Let us now turn to another ques- 
tion. How has the possible disbene- 
fit of proliferation entered into the 
decisions to proceed? Since the de- 
cisions relating to laser isotope sepa- 
ration have not been made in public 
forums, one can only speculate on 
the answer to this question, judging 
from where the decisions have been 
made and from the public state- 
ments of those involved, it is a good 
guess that while proliferation may 
have been a personal concern to 
some individuals, it has not been an 

At the bottom of this test tube 
are about four milligrams of 
uranium enriched to about three 
percent uranium-235 by laser 
experiments at Lawrence 
Livermore Laboratory. This may 
have been the first visible 
sample of laser enriched 
uranium. It is the only sample 
thus far displayed to the public. 

important consideration in the 
decision-making process. 

The principal participants in de- 
ciding the course of laser isotope 
separation research have been ad- 
ministrators and researchers em- 
ployed by the AEC (now ERDA), its 
Los Alamos and Livermore laborato- 

ries, Exxon Nuclear Company and 
the Avco-Everett Research Laborato- 
ry, and members of the joint Atomic 
Energy Committee of the U.S. Con- 
gress. Given the responsibilities and 
perspectives of these individuals, it 
is only natural that the principal 
considerations behind their deci- 
sions to support this research have 
been a concern with an adequate 
and economic fuel supply for nucle- 
ar power plants and with potential 
commercial gain. 

In this closed decision-making 
process, there is a built-in institu- 
tional bias in favor of emphasis on 
the potential benefits and against 
close scrutiny of the risks. This was 
evident in the hearings on "The 
Future of the Uranium Enrichment 
Industry," before the Joint Commit- 
tee on Atomic Energy in 1 973. These 
hearings include extensive discus- 
sion of how enrichment technolo- 
gies can benefit nuclear power and 
the companies that will market 
them. There is a clubby atmosphere 
of business partners discussing how 
to promote nuclear power and make 
a buck in the process. For example, 
consider the following exchange be- 
tween Rep. Craig Hosmer and Exxon 
Nuclear Company president Ray- 
mond L. Dickeman: 

Hosmer: You mentioned then that you 
are working on this laser process. 
Dickeman: Yes. 

Hosmer: What if somehow you 
should have a drastic breakthrough on 
that process and come down as low as 
$5 a separative unit. Do you think that 
those Europeans and Japanese would be 
able to resist that cheap a product? 

Dickeman: It would be a boon to 

Hosmer: A boon to you, that is for 
sure, (laughter.) You would probably be 
able to take a lot of that business that 
would otherwise remain overseas with 
that kind of price. 

Dickeman: I think that with a superior 
product or service one can generally 


build a market. . . . There may be other 
advantages as well. Yes; we place con- 
siderable emphasis on serving markets 
outside the United States as well as the 
U.S. market [15, part 2, p. 193]. 

On the other hand, in three vol- 
umes of hearings, there is only one 
reference to proliferation, and then it 
is viewed as a public relations prob- 
lem that will have to be overcome. 
On the first day of the hearings, Rep. 
Hosmer remarked: "The ghosts of 
nuclear proliferation still stalk and 
exorcising them will present prob- 
lems" [15 part 1, p. 4]. 

A more recent example of this 
attitude occurred during the Ameri- 
can Physical Society meeting last 
February when Harold Agnew, di- 
rector of Los Alamos, dismissed con- 
cerns about proliferation arising 
from laser isotope separation with 
the categorical statement: "I see 
nothing but benefits coming from 
this new technology." 

It is ERDA, the joint Committee on 
Atomic Energy, and the nuclear in- 
dustry~ in the persons of Harold 
Agnew, Craig Hosmer, Raymond 
Dickeman, and their colleagues, 
who have made and continue to 
make the key decisions on the 
course of laser isotope separation 

There is another reason why the 
risks of new technologies like laser 
isotope separation generally do not 
receive attention. In the research 
stage, no one other than the close- 
knit circle of people directly in- 
volved is much aware of them. This 
is especially true when, as in the 
case of laser isotope separation, se- 
curity classification and proprietary 
considerations serve to keep infor- 
mation secret. As a consequence, 
the public generally is presented 
with a fait accompli of a developed 
technology before the possible ad- 
verse consequences are recognized 
and before a balanced weighing of 

risks and benefits could conceivably 
take place. 

To be sure, many of the individu- 
als involved in the research do think 
about the social implications of their 
work. In the case of laser enrichment 
and proliferation, Arthur Ka.ntrowitz 
of Avco has related that his initial 
reaction was, "the idea scared me." 
For this reason, he restricted early 
discussions at Avco to a very small 
group on a highly confidential basis. 
Eventually he overcame his reserva- 
tions, however: "The way I over- 
came that fear was to face up to 
what it would take. There was no 
way we could think of that would 
lead to a garage job" [16]. James 
Davis, of Livermore, says that he is 
not worried about the proliferation 
effects of laser enrichment because 
there are plenty of other ways coun- 
tries can get weapons-grade materi- 
al, so that "anybody who is not 
really naive knows this is kind of a 
moot point" [10]. Harold Agnew of 
Los Alamos expresses a similar atti- 
tude quite succinctly, "the genie is 
already out of the bottle" [17]. 

But concern by such individuals, 
however sincere their intent and as- 
tute their judgment, is not to be 
confused with an independent, pub- 
lic process of assessment. These 
people are subject to institutional 
constraints and are themselves inter- 
ested parties. 

Harold Agnew has written in an- 
other context: "The basis of ad- 
vanced technology is innovation, 
and nothing is more stifling to inno- 
vation than seeing one's product not 
used or ruled out of consideration 
on flimsy premises involving public 
or world opinion" [18]. An alterna- 
tive view is that in a democratic 
society the public must be aware of 
significant technology policy deci- 
sions and there should be an oppor- 
tunity for public discussion and de- 
bate, and even for public influence 


on the decision-making process. 

Up to this point in laser enrich- 
ment R&D, this opportunity has 
been lacking. There is still time, 
however. Laser enrichment is just 
entering the development stage, and 
its commercial prospects are prom- 
ising, but as yet unproved. Although 
there are still large uncertainties 
associated with both benefits and 
risks, this technology has reached 
the point where a sensible weighing 
of its positive and negative implica- 
tions is possible. If there is ever a 
case where the notion of "technolo- 
gy assessment" can be usefully ap- 
plied, this is surely a classic exam- 

Future U.S. Policy 

The previous discussion suggests 
that laser enrichment is about to 
open a direct path to proliferation. It 
also suggests that this possibility has 
heretofore not been a central con- 
sideration in the decisions to pro- 
ceed with this technology. To be 
sure some of the work has been 
classified, but it is doubtful that a 
policy of secrecy will be effective in 
deterring proliferation if laser en- 
richment proves successful. Further- 
more, classifying the work is by no 
means the same thing as seriously 
considering whether this technology 
should be halted. 

In the United States, all laser en- 
richment R&D is being done at gov- 
ernment laboratories or subject to 
strict government regulation. What 
policy should the U.S. government 

One possible option is continuing 
with the projects, but severely tight- 
ening* the secrecy surrounding the 
work. Restricting access will make it 
more difficult for knowledge to 
spread. This was the original basis 
for U.S. policy to deal with prolifera- 
tion after World War II. Stringent 
classification procedures were im- 

posed to protect the "secret of the 
atomic bomb" and, later, the "secret 
of the hydrogen bomb." 

This appears to be the direction 
the present erda policy is heading. 
The Los Alamos project has been 
heavily classified from its inception; 
the Livermore work became subject 
to strict classification in early 1976; 
and erda has recently decided to 
classify the Avco-Exxon work as 
well. According to an ERDA spokes- 
man, this is direct evidence of offi- 
cial concern with the proliferation 
potential of laser enrichment. 

In the past, despite classification 
and proprietary inhibitions, some in- 
formation about progress in both 
atomic and molecular approaches 
has become public. Avco's 1973 
and 1976 patents are quite explicit. 
The paper presented by Robinson 
and Jensen to the American Physical 
Society, while less detailed, gives an 
idea of the techniques being em- 
ployed at Los Alamos and promises 
"a large number of scientific papers 
to be published during the next 
year." A paper presented by Richard 
Levy of the Exxon Nuclear Company 
at the same session outlines the 
problems encountered in both ap- 
proaches [6]. 

However, the Robinson and Jen- 
sen paper created quite a flap within 
the government. It had been spe- 
cially declassified by erda for 1 pub- 
lic presentation without the knowl- 
edge of either the U.S. Arms Control 
and Disarmament Agency or offi- 
cials at the White House concerned 
wi-th proliferation. This precipitated 
such an adverse reaction from those 
quarters, including a strongly- 
worded letter from ACDA Director 
Fred Ikle to erda Administrator 
Robert Seamons, that one individual 
familiar with the incident counseled 
"not to hold your breath" waiting 
for further papers from Los Alamos 
on the subject. It also led to much 


tighter classification of the Liver- 
more work. According to James 
Davis at Livermore, the Robinson- 
Jensen paper "seemed to have trig- 
gered the whole turnaround [on 
classification] and spun off on our 
activities" [10]. At the same time, 
much to Exxon's dismay ERDA has 
moved to classify the Avco-Exxon 
work. Consequently, in the future 
much less information is lik ely to be 
available to the public about these 

The problem with this policy is 
that in the long run it is not likely to 
be very effective in preventing the 
dissemination of the "secret" of 
laser isotope separation to other 
countries; but in the short run it can 
be effective in preventing the possi- 
bility of public discussion in the 
United States of whether this work 
should continue. During Congres- 
sional testimony in 1974, Edward 
Teller suggested a lesson of the 
post-World War II experience with 
nuclear secrecy: 

Actually secrecy of nuclear weapons has 
not worked very well. Five nations are 
members of the Nuclear Club and the 
number of people to whom the main 
lines of the relevant information about 
nuclear weapons is available is probably 
between one hundred thousand and one 
million. Under these conditions one 
must accept the conclusion that nuclear 
secrets, as a general rule, are secrets in 
name only [19]. 

By the same token, if laser isotope 
separation proves to be a cheaper, 
simpler technology for uranium en- 
richment, it is illusory to think that 
effective secrecy can long be main- 
tained. Many people will soon be 
privy to the relevant information. 
There will be strong pressures to 
market the technology widely, in- 
cluding overseas. There will also be 
concomitant pressures to reduce se- 
crecy., Exxon Nuclear President 
Dickeman's public statement [15, 

part 2, p. 193], "classification be- 
yond that essential to the mainte- 
nance of national security will need- 
lessly discourage innovation, disad- 
vantage U.S. industry competing for 
world markets and add considerably 
to the cost of enrichment services" 
hints at the kind of private resistance 
to classification likely to come later 
from a developed laser enrichment 
industry. The word will get around 
and so will laser enrichment. 

A counter-example to this argu- 
ment might appear to be the gaseous 
diffusion enrichment technology, 
where the secret of the barrier 
through which the hex gas is forced 
to diffuse has been closely held for 
30 years. But there may be other, 
more significant reasons than secre- 
cy why so few countries have built 
gaseous diffusion plants, for exam- 
ple, the immense capital costs and 
the availability of nuclear fuel from 
the United States. These reasons are 
likely to be much less salient in the 
case of laser enrichment in an era of 
widespread desire for energy inde- 

A lid of secrecy clamped on the 
ERDA and Exxon programs will ef- 
fectively preclude public scrutiny of 
laser enrichment during the brief 
period ahead when there is still time 
to do something about it. Such a 
public examination is required to 
bring this technology out of the nar- 
row institutional arena where deci- 
sions are now being made and make 
possible a balanced assessment of its 
consequences. In effect, a policy of 
secrecy is therefore a bureaucratic 
prescription to proceed with devel- 
opment. Before such a policy is im- 
plemented, it would be wise to take 
a probing look now at whether these 
projects should be continued. 

In this regard it should be pointed 
out that the debatable question of 
whether or not it is appropriate to 
limit basic research is not an issue 


here. One has to distinguish be- 
tween research and development. It 
is not a novel idea at all to consider 
terminating development of a new 
technology. Every new technology 
passes through a stage where "go-no 
go" decisions are made. Roughly 
speaking this occurs after sufficient 
research and exploratory develop- 
ment have been completed that the 
potential of the technology can be 
realistically assessed, but before so 
much money has been invested that 
it acquires a momentum of its own. 
Given the nature of the institu- 
tions that make these decisions, in 
practice they are usually based on 
relatively narrow criteria of techni- 
cal feasibility and economic payoff, 
as well as what might loosely be 
termed bureaucratic and special in- 
terest concerns. Rarely are societal 
implications, such as proliferation 
risk, a central consideration in such 

At the Go-No Go Stage 

Laser enrichment is just now pass- 
ing through this go-no go stage. On 
technical and economic grounds, 
both the atomic and molecular ap- 
proaches look promising. To this 
point, however, neither Exxon nor 
ERDA has so much invested that it is 
effectively committed. Exxon has 
spent about $20 million and ERDA 
about $50 million, compared to esti- 
mated total development costs of 
$150 million and $350 million re- 
spectively. The projects are about to 
enter large-scale development, 
where annual expenditures will in- 
crease markedly [11, p. 31]. 

The question is how the broader 
consequences of laser enrichment, 
notably its proliferation risk, can be 
incorporated in the determination of 
whether or not these projects should 
be continued. The Office of Tech- 
nology Assessment (OTA), the Nu- 
clear Regulatory Commission, and 

the Arms Control and Disarmament 
Agency are supposed to do just 
that — to bring about a more bal- 
anced assessment of the risks and 
benefits of new technologies than 
those promoting the technologies 
are likely to provide. However, at 
least in the case of laser enrichment, 
only OTA has shown any inclination 
to take this responsibility seriously. 

According to the legislation creat- 
ing OTA, "the basic function of the 
Office shall be to provide early indi- 
cation of the probable beneficial 
and adverse impacts of the applica- 
tion of technology." Moreover, OTA 
has recently been asked by the 
Senate Government Operations 
Committee to do an assessment of 
technologies relating to nuclear 
weapons proliferation. The first 
phase of that assessment began in 
June and is due to be completed by 
the end of this year. 

Whether or not this study will 
produce a significant assessment of 
laser enrichment is difficult to pre- 
dict at this point. On the one hand, 
OTA's record to date does not pro- 
vide much cause for optimism. Dur- 
ing its first two years OTA has exer- 
cised caution in its choice of assess- 
ments, tending to avoid "sensitive" 
topics which might displease an in- 
terested congressional committee or 
powerful member of Congress. 
Moreover, OTA has been reluctant 
to take on classified or proprietary 
topics. A critical assessment of laser 
enrichment, especially one that sug- 
gested a serious proliferation haz- 
ard, might involve OTA in just the 
kind of controversy it has sought to 
avoid. A careful inquiry would cer- 
tainly require access both to classi- 
fied and proprietary information. 

On the other hand, OTA's prelim- 
inary plans to deal with laser enrich- 
ment show promise of a change in 
this pattern. Under the capable lead- 
ership of Audrey Buyrn, a nuclear 


physicist, OTA is experimenting 
with a unique new approach to as- 
sess laser enrichment. Buyrn has 
submitted a series of questions to 
ERDA concerning the proliferation 
implications of its laser enrichment 
programs. ERDA has agreed to reply 
with reports on both a classified and 
unclassified level. A technical re- 
view panel of outside consultants, 
including IBM physicist Richard L. 
Garwin, will receive the reports and 
then submit comments and, proba- 
bly, further queries to ERDA. 
Through such an interactive process, 
classified and unclassified reports, 
each accompanied by reviewers' 
comments, will be generated. 

Jersey Nuclear was also asked to 
cooperate with the OTA assessment. 
But when jnai expressed reluc- 
tance, OTA officials decided not to 
press the matter. 

The utility of this procedure will 
depend in large measure on how 
forthcoming ERDA is and on how 
much it is willing to release on an 
unclassified basis. It may also de- 
pend critically on OTA's willingness 
to force the issue — to press erda to 
respond fully to its inquiry. 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commis- 
sion and the Arms Control and Dis- 
armament Agency are in a position 
to require that those individuals 
most familiar with the work, the 
researchers at Avco, Los Alamos and 
Livermore, conduct detailed assess- 
ments of the proliferation prospects 
of laser enrichment. Although it is 
difficult to ascertain for certain from 
conversations with those involved, it 
appears that such studies have not 
been carried out. When asked about 
the possibility of applying the atom- 
ic approach to small-scale produc- 
tion of highly enriched uranium, Ar- 
thur Kantrowitz of Avco comment- 
ed, "We haven't really thought 
about how to do that. We have only 
thought about tonnage lots. We 

haven't tried to be inventive about 
that. It isn't something that ever oc- 
curred to us" [16]. 

As mentioned previously, Jersey 
Nuclear, the company sponsoring 
the Avco-Exxon work, has applied to 
the NRC for a license to build a test 
facility. One condition of the licens- 
ing requirements relates to the po- 
tential proliferation risk, namely: 
"No license will be issued by the 
Commission to any person within 
the United States if the Commission 
finds that the issuance of such a 
license would be inimical to the 
common defense and security." This 
clause was recently invoked by the 
NRC as rationale for open hearings 
on the proliferation implications of 
exporting nuclear fuel to India. It 
could similarly be invoked to hold 
hearings on the proliferation impli- 
cations of the proposed Jersey Nu- 
clear facility. In preparation for the 
hearings, the NRC could require 
Avco and Exxon Nuclear to conduct 
a careful examination of what ways, 
if any, their work might relate to the 
production of weapons-grade mate- 

This is unlikely to happen. Ac- 
cording to William Nixon, the NRC 
staff member handling the Jersey 
Nuclear application, ERDA classifi- 
cation of their work is likely to be 
considered a sufficient deterrent to 
proliferation to satisfy NRC's obliga- 
tion to protect the common defense 
and security [20]. 

Legislation in late 1975 establish- 
ing "arms control impact state- 
ments" gives the Arms Control and 
Disarmament Agency authority to 
require similar studies by Los Ala- 
mos and Livermore. In the language 
of the Act, the AC da director can 
require an arms control impact 
statement of any government agency 
program "involving weapons sys- 
tems or technology which such 
Government agency or the Director 


believes may have a significant im- 
pact on arms control and disarma- 
ment policy or negotiations" [21 ]. If 
the National Security Council con- 
curs, these statements are supposed 
to be submitted to the Congress; in 
this way they, or an unclassified 
version of them, would become 

Apparently it has not occurred to 
ACDA officials that laser enrichment 
is a natural candidate for an arms 
control impact statement. None was 
submitted this year by either Los 
Alamos or Livermore. 

In the meantime, laser enrichment 
is moving ahead. There is only a 
brief period remaining when it will 
be possible to stop or severely slow 
its development. Now is the time for 
the United States to decide whether 
on balance its best interests will be 
served by this technology. Now is 
the time to consider whether devel- 
opment of laser enrichment in the 
United States should be halted. 

A Moratorium 

This leads to a second, more ex- 
treme, policy option: a moratorium 
on development. Laser enrichment 
projects in the United States would 
be suspended, pending the results of 
efforts to achieve agreement with 
other industrialized nations to halt 
their work in this area. By itself such 
an agreement is highly implausible; 
as part of a comprehensive non- 
proliferation initiative by the United 
States in cooperation with other 
governments, it makes more sense. 

Such a policy would be predicat- 
ed on certain assumptions, includ- 
ing: (1) laser enrichment will pro- 
vide a cheap, accessible means of 
producing weapons-grade uranium, 
(2) less extreme measures, such as a 
high level of secrecy, are insufficient 
to deter proliferation by this path, 
and (3) sufficient technological hur- 
dles remain that stopping develop- 

ment now would significantly deter 
proliferation by this path. 

If these assumptions are valid, the 
U.S. government is now in effect 
working against itself so far as nucle- 
ar weapons proliferation is con- 
cerned. While the State Department 
is beginning to develop a policy to 
cope with proliferation arising from 
one technology — reprocessing — 
ERDA and NRC are supporting and 
licensing research on another that 
could undermine that policy. 

To be sure there are a number of 
factors that could complicate the 
prospects for a moratorium or ne- 
gate its utility, including on-going 
laser enrichment R&D programs in 
other countries; technologies that 
provide alternative paths to prolife- 
ration; and benefits, in addition to 
uranium enrichment, that may result 
from laser isotope separation and 
related applications of tunable la- 

Several other nations are reported 
to have research programs in laser 
isotope separation, most notably Is- 
rael and the Soviet Union, but also 
the remaining members of the nu- 
clear club and West Germany, Swe- 
den, and Australia [22]. As in the 
United States, the principal motiva- 
tions for this work are evidently relat- 
ed to nuclear power — a desire for an 
independent, assured supply of nu- 
clear fuel and a share of the poten- 
tially lucrative international market 
for enriched uranium. Attempts to 
curtail this technology will have 
to include incentives that speak to 
these motivations. For example, this 
may require new institutional ar- 
rangements, such as multinational 
enrichment facilities, for providing 
countries with nuclear fuel. 

Of course a moratorium might 
fail. Other nations might refuse to 
agree to it, or agree and undertake 
clandestine programs. But this poses 
no direct threat to U.S. national se- 


curity. Were another country to de- 
velop laser enrichment first, the 
worst that might happen is that the 
U.S.- government or U.S. industry 
might be in a position of not having 
the cheapest enrichment technolo- 
gy. This might result in a substantial 
commercial loss. It has also been 
suggested that the United States 
would thereby also lose its ability to 
"control" the dissemination of en- 
richment technology. Since enrich- 
ment costs are only about 5 to 10 
percent of nuclear power costs, hav- 
ing the cheapest enrichment process 
may offer only very weak control, 
however. Rather than maintaining 
control, we may end up instead 
merely leading the way and guiding 
other nations in a direction we later 

Another objection to the morato- 
rium proposal is the existence of 
alternative means by which non- 
nuclear weapons states could obtain 
the fissionable material necessary to 
establish a small nuclear weapons 
program. In addition to reprocessing 
facilities to isolate the plutonium in 
spent nuclear fuel from power 
plants, the most notable technolo- 
gies in this regard are the plutonium 
production reactor and the gaseous 
centrifuge enrichment process. 

If nuclear power experiences the 
worldwide growth some have pre- 
dicted, there is soon going to be a 
great deal of spent nuclear fuel in a 
great many countries. Whether the 
plutonium in this fuel is used to 
make bombs will depend largely on 
the success of international control 
efforts such as multinational reproc- 
essing arrangements. There are no 
grounds for extreme optimism in this 
regard, however. In the diplomatic 
words of a recent State Department 
document on proliferation: 

Reprocessing technology has long been 
declassified, and there is much general 

information about it available. Durabili- 
ty, therefore, is not unlimited as to how 
effectively we can restrain the spread of 
reprocessing [23]. 

Constructing a graphite-mod- 
erated production reactor is an 
even more direct way for a country 
intent on a small weapons program 
to produce plutonium rich in the 
isotope plutonium-239, the material 
most suitable for bombs. 

As for the gaseous centrifuge en- 
richment process, many of the argu- 
ments presented here about laser 
isotope separation and proliferation 
echo similar arguments made about 
gaseous centrifuges 10 to 15 years 
ago. Gaseous centrifuge technology 
has now reached the stage of com- 
mercial viability with a small plant 
operating since 1975 in the United 
Kingdom under the auspices of 
URENCO, a British, Dutch and Ger- 
man consortium; a larger version is 
scheduled to begin operating in 
Holland this year. Exxon Nuclear 
Company is also doing research and 
development on gaseous centrifug- 
es. This enrichment process can to 
some extent be scaled down, with a 
relatively small number of centrifug- 
es used to produce weapons-grade 
uranium. If optimistic predictions 
about laser isotope separation are 
realized, it will be significantly 
smaller, cheaper, and simpler — 
making it the preferred proliferation 
option. But that remains to be seen; 
gaseous centrifuges are already de- 

If no effective means of inhibiting 
the spread of reprocessing facilities, 
production reactors, and gaseous 
centrifuges are instituted, then one 
could stop laser enrichment and 
gain very little so far as proliferation 
is concerned. 

A further complicating factor re- 
lating to the moratorium option is 
the fact that a central component of 
laser isotope separation, the tunable 


dye laser, will continue to be devel- 
oped for other applications. And 
some of the applications people will 
wish to pursue, for example, laser 
investigations of atomic spectrosco- 
py or chemical reactions and laser 
separation of isotopes other than 
uranium, may involve equipment 
and techniques similar to those suit- 
able for laser enrichment of urani- 
um. On the other hand the technical 
problems peculiar to uranium may 
well require quite special technical 
solutions. Just how great a problem 
the development of related technol- 
ogies might pose to an effective 
moratorium on laser enrichment of 
uranium is a subject requiring more 
careful analysis. 

This discussion suggests that a 
moratorium on laser enrichment de- 
velopment would make sense only 
as part of a broader non- 
proliferation initiative. A serious 
U.S. effort to deal with proliferation 
will have to be expanded from its 
current focus on reprocessing tech- 
nology. It will entail mapping out all 
paths to proliferation and develop- 
ing policies to cope with each one of 

If such an initiative is high on the 
list of priorities of the Carter admin- 
istration, then an immediate con- 
cern should be a policy for dealing 
with laser enrichment. If R&D con- 
tinues at the present pace, laser en- 
richment will soon be beyond the 
possibility of control. We will have a 
de facto policy, established by drift 
rather than by design. Now is the 
time for a full-scale review, inde- 
pendent of ERDA and Exxon, of the 
full range of policy options, includ- 
ing strict secrecy and a moratorium 
on development. The President's 
own Office of Science and Technol- 
ogy Policy would seem a natural 
place to carry out this review. 

To preclude options being closed 
in the meantime and to promote a 

timely and serious review process, 
no licenses for large-scale facilities 
should be issued and development 
work oi! laser enrichment at govern- 
ment lj l >oratories should be sus- 
pended ^ending the outcome of the 
review. An Administration seriously 
concerned about nuclear weapons 
proliferation will have to deal seri- 
ously with the implications of laser 


1. R. Gillette, "Uranium Enrichment: Rumors of Israeli 
Progress with Lasers." Science, 183 (March 22, 1974), p 

2. C. P. Robinson, "Laser Isotope Separation," paper 
presented at New York Academy of Sciences' Third Confer- 
ence on the Laser, April 24, 1975, LA-UR-75-642 (revision 1) 
(Los Alamos, N. Mex.: Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory). 

3. The corresponding U.S. patent on this work is U.S. 
patent no. 3443087, May 6, 1969, "Isotopic Separation 
Process," Inventors: ). Robieux and J-M. Auclair, Assignee: 
Compagnie Cenerale d'Electricite'. 

4. For a description of this work, see German Patent 
Bureau Document no. 2312194, I. Nebenzahl and M. Levin, 
"Method of Isotope Separation," October 4, 1973. 

5. U.S. patent no. 3772519, November 13, 1973, "Method 
of and Apparatus for the Separation of Isotopes," Inventor: R. 
H. Levy and G. S. Janes, Assignee: Jersey Nuclear-Avco 
Isotopes, Inc. 

6. R. Levy, "Prospects for Uranium Laser Isotope Separa- 
tion," paper presented at meeting of American Physical 
Society, New York, Feb. 4, 1976. 

7. U.S. Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, "Authorizing 
Appropriations for the Energy Research and Development 
Administration for Fiscal Year 1977" (Washington, DC: 
GPO, April 23, 1976), p. 34. 

8. C. P. Robinson and R. J. Jensen, "Some Developments 
in Laser Isotope Separation Research at Los Alamos," paper 
presented at meeting of American Physical Society, New 
York, Feb. 4, 1976, LA-UR-76-191 (Los Alamos, N. Mex.: 
The Laboratory). 

9. A more quantitative statement concerning the progress 
toward a clear separation would require knowing the vertical 
scale in Figure 3, which Robinson and Jensen have not 

10. James Davis to Barry Casper, June 15, 1976. 

1 1 . For a discussion of the economics of laser enrichment, 
see U.S. General Accounting Office, "Efforts to Develop Two 
Nuclear Concepts That Could Greatly Improve This Coun- 
try's Future Energy Situation," no. RED-75-356 (Washington, 
D.C.: The Office, May 1975). 

12. B. B. Snavely, "Separation of Uranium Isotopes by 
Laser Photochemistry," Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, 

13. Congressional Budget Office, "Uranium Enrichment: 
Alternatives for Meeting the Nation's Needs and Their Impli- 
cations for the Federal Budget" (Washington, DC: Govern- 
ment Printing Office, May 18, 1976), see especially Appen- 
dix C. 

14. H. M. Agnew, "A New Attack on the Energy Shortage," 
New Mexican, Oct. 13, 1974. 

15. U.S. Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Hearings on 
"Future Structure of the Uranium Enrichment Industry," 93rd 
Congress, 1st Session, 1973. 

16. A. Kantrowitz, interview, June 14, 1976. "Garage job" 
refers to an enrichment facility small enough to be construct- 
ed in a space comparable in size to a garage. 

17. H. M. Agnew, "Uranium Enrichment: The Genie Is 
Out of the Bottle," paper presented at meeting of American 
Physical Society, New York, Feb. 4. 1976 


18. Agnew, "Technical Innovation. A Necessary Deterrent 22 - us Senate. Committee on Government Operations, 
or Provocation?" Air Force/Space DigesHMa\ 1967), p 68. "Facts on Nuclear Proliferation" (Washington. DC Cov- 

19. E. Teller, "Government Secrecv." Hearings before U.S. ernment Printing Office. Dec. 1975), p. 107. 

Senate Government Operations Committee. May-June, 23, M - B Kr atzer, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for 

1974, p. 257. Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Af- 

20. William Nixon to Barry Casper, June 7, 1976. ' airs - "Intentional Cooperation in Nuclear Energy and 

21. Congressional Record, HI 1047, Nov. 13. 1975. For a Nonproliferaron." Bureau of Public Affairs, Department of 
discussion of the intent of arms control impact statements. ^ ,ate ' Nov ,975 

see P. M. Boffey. "Arms Control Agencv: New Law Seeks to 
End Its Period of Eclipse," Science. 190 (1975). p. 1275 



Richard C. Dahlberg 

As a means of partially imple- 
menting the Carter administration's 
policies on safeguarding nuclear 
materials and minimizing the risk of 
weapons proliferation, many nucle- 
ar reactor fuel cycles are under 
study. The primary goal is to devel- 
op, if possible, a technological fix to 
the weapons proliferation problem. 

The criteria against which to 
judge the merits of various fuel cy- 
cles have been illusive, but general- 
ly the concept of "early warning" 
has been dominant. That is, the 
world should have an early warning 
of another entry to the nuclear club, 
early enough to permit diplomacy to 
be effective in discouraging such 

In this report, a more extensive set 
of criteria are suggested for evaluat- 
ing different fuel cycles. The con- 
ventional criteria — low power cost 
and good utilization of uranium 
resources — are, of course, also con- 
sidered as well as the need to main- 
tain non-fossil energy sources for the 
longer term. A very subjective rank- 
ing of various nuclear fuel cycles 
with respect to the criteria suggested 
here will also be presented. 

It has been argued that technolog- 
ical fixes may not be effective in 
preventing weapons proliferation. 
Chauncy Starr and Edwin Zebroski, 
for example, have pointed out that 

there are several ways to accumu- 
late enough material to make a 
weapon, and that the use of a very 
imperfect technological fix to an es- 
sentially political/institutional prob- 
lem is not likely to work. 1 Thus, it 
seems clear that technological fixes 
are not the complete answer. How- 
ever, technological fixes cou/d help 
reduce proliferation risks in the near 
term (that is, in the next 15 to 20 
years). Effective, worldwide political 
and institutional arrangements to re- 
duce weapons proliferation could 
probably not be developed and put 
into place in the near future, and 
technological fixes could pro- 
vide more time for this to occur. 
Additionally, it is possible that for 
the longer term a combination of 
technological fixes and political and 
institutional arrangements would be 
more effective than just the latter 

Any discussion of safeguards is- 
sues must begin with a review of the 
threats for which protection is 
sought. There are three threats of 
concern: 2 

• The possibility that some na- 
tions will embark on a deliberate 
course to acquire nuclear material 
and build a weapon. 

This course could easily be fol- 
lowed by the construction of a sim- 
ple plutonium production reactor 
and an associated processing facili- 

Dahlberg, Richard C. Weapons proliferation and 
criteria for evaluating nuclear fuel cycles. 
In Bulletin of Atomic Scientists / Jan. 1978, 
pp. 38-42. Copyright material reproduced 
with permission of copyright holder. 

37-189 O - 79 


ty, or by an enrichment plant. Al- 
most any nation can, if it devotes the 
necessary resources, develop a 
weapons capability; technological 
fixes are not likely to be effective 
here. This, essentially, is the Starr- 
Zebroski argument. 

• The possibility that terrorists or 
criminals will steal nuclear materials 
for either blackmail or weapons pur- 

It is' not clear how serious this 
problem is. Terrorism based on nu- 
clear weapons appears to be a cost- 
ly, high-risk proposition with signifi- 
cant failure possibility, especially 
when compared with such real 
threats as airplane hijacking, mass 
kidnapping and urban terrorism. It 
would seem that the risk of theft o f 
nuclear material, by either alien 
government terrorists or domestic 
terrorists, could be reduced to small 
proportions by fairly straightforward 
security measures. 

• The possibility that nations will 
find it easy and convenient to build 
a nuclear weapon, and will do so 
because nuclear materials are either 
readily available or can be easily 
made so, either legally or illegally. 

This threat is of great concern, and 
the widespread use of alternative 
fuel cycles might be effective against 
it, at least in the near term. 

These threats have an important 
time dependency. The emergence of 
new methods of uranium enrich- 
ment has accelerated over the last 
few years, and it is possible (perhaps 
likely) that centrifuge machines, or 
laser enrichment technology, or 
some other technique will be inex- 
pensive and readily available within 
15 to 20 years. Equally important, 
the technological skills of the cur- 
rent underdeveloped (and non- 
weapons) states will have advanced 
to the point where they could readi- 
ly adopt and use enrichment tech- 
nology. Te< hnological fixes appro- 

priate in the 1970s and 1980s may 
not be appropriate in the post 2000 
era, and political and institutional 
techniques to control weapons pro- 
liferation will become increasingly 

I refer to enrichment technology 
above, but the arguments apply to 
other nuclear technologies as well. 

In summary, while a reduction in 
the risk of weapons proliferation 
through choices in nuclear fuel cy- 
cles ma y be p ossible in the near 
term, if may not be as effective in the 
long term. Long-term solutions are 
certainly going to be more complex. 

New Criteria Set 

A set of specific if somewhat 
unquantified criteria for use in eval- 
uating various fuel cycles is pre- 
sented below. The criteria can be 
used as a basis for further develop- 
ment; they can even be used in a 
probabilistic risk assessment, though 
considerable model development 
would be necessary. These criteria 
aren't meant to be absolute in the 
sense that they are either met or not 
met by a given fuel cycle. A specific 
fuel cycle will do relatively better or 
worse than others for each criterion, 
and some sort of weighting is need- 
ed to arrive at overall conclusions. 

Criterion no. 1: Long Term 
Adaptability. Any fuel cycle or reac- 
tor concept adopted to alleviate 
short- and mid-term proliferation 
concerns should also be adaptable 
in the long term when, as noted 
above, a totally different safeguards 
environment is likely to exist. For 
example, a once-through reactor 
fuel cycle that could not be readily 
modified to accommodate some 
form of recycle would not score high 
on this criterion. Reactors and fuel 
cycles with flexibilities of the fol- 
lowing type would score high: 

• advanced converters in which 
the ( onversion ratio could be readily 











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increased (to unity, if desirable) to 
meet a changing uranium availabili- 
ty picture. 

• an ability to tit well into a 
system of secure nuclear energy 
parks and related satellite reactors 
located outside the parks. 

• an ability to efficiently utilize 
either the uranium/plutonium cycle 
or the thorium cycle, or their vari- 
ants, as the situation warrants. 

• siting flexibility, an increasing 
problem as the most desirable sites 
are used. 

Criterion no. 2: Early Warning of 
Weapons Intentions. The fact that 
nuclear materials are being diverted 
from a fuel cycle should be evident 
long before those materials can be 
used in a weapon. This would give 
time for political and diplomatic ini- 
tiatives to be effective in preventing 
an escalation in military capability. 
For example, if the gaseous emis- 
sions from a new and unidentified 
facility contained radioactivity, an 
intention to build a weapon could 
be inferred, hopefully at an early 

Criterion no. 3: Easy Detection of 
Diverted Material. Once nuclear 
materials have been diverted, easy 
detection would be desirable. This 
would also facilitate security proce- 
dures designed to prevent diversion. 
For example, uranium-233 with its 
associated gamma activity is clearly 
easier to detect than plutonium. This 
appears to be one big advantage of 
the thorium cycle over the use of 
only uranium, since uranium-233 is 
formed from neutron capture in 
thorium. The gaseous emissions ex- 
ample noted above is also an exam- 
ple pertinent to this criterion. 

Criterion no. 4: High Cost to Con- 
struct Weapons. It should be very 
costly, to construct a nuclear weapon 
from diverted material. The high 
cost would limit most weapons de- 

velopment efforts to those countries 
with a consuming desire to do so. It 
would also require a tough political 
decision to spend money on arms 
rather than bread. Separation of ura- 
nium isotopes would at the present 
time be obviously very costly. The 
construction of reprocessing plants 
could also be costly, depending on 
the form and composition of the fuel 
to be reprocessed. 

Criterion no. 5: Difficult to Con- 
struct Weapons. It should be tech- 
nologically and physically difficult 
to assemble and detonate a weapon 
from diverted material. For example, 
plutonium with a high plutonium- 
240 content would be much more 
difficult to use in a weapon than 
relatively pure plutonium-239. 
Uranium-233 with its associated 
high gamma activity would also 

make weapons' construction rela- 
tively difficult. Fissile material which 
is present in fuel elements in a very 
dilute form, such that large quanti- 
ties of material would have to be 
processed to obtain enough material 
for a weapon, is another example of 
a difficult — and also costly — 

These five criteria are pertinent to 
the safeguards issues, to the risk of 
weapons proliferation. However, 
there are three other criteria, men- 
tioned earlier, that are also impor- 
tant in evaluating nuclear fuel cy- 

Criterion no. 6: Low Power Cost. 
The power cost should be at least 
comparable to that from other ener- 
gy sources and, in any event, signifi- 
cantly lower than if imported oil and 
gas were used. One motivation for 
the widespread use of nuclear ener- 
gy should be the conservation <^. the 
world's oil and gas supplies. 

Criterion no. 7: Resource Conser- 
vation. Preferred fuel cycles should 
have low requirements for natural 


uranium. There is great uncertainty 
in the extent of the world's uranium 
resources, and serious projections 
range from an amount which will, 
for all practical purposes, run out in 
less than 50 years to much larger 
amounts. In dealing with non- 
renewable resources, it seems pru- 
dent to assume that low-side esti- 
mates are possible. 

Criterrtfh no. 8: Increase Number 
of Non-Fossil Energy Options. Liq- 
uid fossil fuels could be in short 
supply in our lifetime and even coal 
could be in short supply in the life- 
time of our children. Additionally, 
there is a growing concern that the 
combustion of fossil fuels will lead 
within a few decades to unaccepta- 
bly high carbon dioxide concentra- 
tions in the atmosphere, resulting in 
drastic long-term changes in global 
weather patterns. Clearly, options to 
burning coal, oil and gas must be 
available to all countries within the 
next few decades. Strategies for the 
near- and mid-term future must not 
reduce the number of non-fossil op- 
tions generally available for the long 
term. For example, the early con- 
sumption of the readily available 
low cost uranium might eliminate 
the nuclear option for many coun- 

The relative importance of these 
criteria will probably change with 
the passage of time as new technol- 
ogies emerge and the technological 
capabilities of non-weapons coun- 
tries improve. Long term adaptabili- 
ty, power cost, resources and non- 
fossil options will tend to become 
more important with the passage of 
Evaluation of Fuel Cycles 

An evaluation of various alterna- 
tive cycles using the eight criteria 
defined above is presented in Tables 
1 and 2. Only two measures of 
r _ceptability have been used: A, 
quite good; and B, not so good. 

However, shadings have been indi- 
cated with pluses and minuses. The 
evaluation is pertinent primarily to 
the near term, although long-range 
implications are treated through cri- 
teria no. 1 and no. 8. 

Table 1 pertains only to the five 
safeguards criteria. A net safeguards 
evaluation is shown for each cycle. 
Table 2 shows this net mark along 
with the other criteria described ear- 
lier. An overall judgment is also 
shown in Table 2. The weighting 
factors used were subjective. 

For illustrative purposes, we have 
only considered two basic cycles: 
the basic uranium/plutonium cycle 
and a cycle using medium enriched 
uranium (MEU) (typically, 20 per- 
cent enrichment) and thorium. (This 
is sometimes called the "denatured" 
cycle because the option of recy- 
cling uranium-233 denatured with 
uranium-238 exists.) These cycles, 
or variations of them, are receiving 
most of the attention in the on-going 
studies of different nuclear fuel cy- 

Only one grand strategy has been 
considered, namely the historical 
approach where reactors are con- 
structed and operated as separate 
units by private industry and sup- 
ported by necessary ancillary indus- 
tries. An alternative grand strategy, 
involving the use of energy centers 
within which sensitive nuclear ma- 
terials could be processed and uti- 
lized, will be discussed later. 

From Table 1 it is clear that all 
once-through cycles rank high 
against most of the five safeguards 
criteria. They do not rate well 
against the difficult to construct cri- 
terion because while obtaining and 
purifying plutonium may be costly^ 
once it is in hand it is not too 
difficult to make a weapon. The 
presence of significant quantities of 
plutonium-240 (or plutonium-238) 
could increase this difficulty, how- 



Overall Evaluation of Nuclear Fuel Cycles 

Cycle Net Non- 

Safeguards Power Resource Fossil Overall 
Evaluation Cost Conservation Option Evaluation 

Uranium/Plutonium Cycle 



Recycle only 


Recycle ura- 
nium and Plu- 






B + 

Medium Enriched Uranium/Thorium Cycle 


Recycle de- 
natured ura- 



B + 


The once-through medium en- 
riched uranium/thorium (MEU/Th) 
cycle ranks a B + rather than a B tor 
difficult to construct since much less 
plutonium is contained in each fuel 
element than in the MEU cycle, and 
the plutonium-238 content is much 
higher. This also impacts the high 
cost evaluation. 

When resources and non-fossil 
options criteria are considered the 
once-through cycles look less attrac- 
tive. The main reason is the large 
uranium requirements needed to 
fuel the once-through option. Readi- 
ly available uranium supplies could 
be committed early in the next cen- 
tury, reducing the nuclear options 
available thereafter. 

The ret y< le options rank lower 
when measured against safeguards 

criteria but higher with respect to the 
power cost and resources criteria. 
Recycle also makes the non-fossil 
options criterion more credible for 
the long-range future. Overall, the 
recycle options appear to rank high- 
er than the once-through options. 

The MEU/Th cycles rank high 
against the long-term adaptability 
criterion because they tend to fit 
well with possible energy center 
concepts and because of the symbi- 
osis possibilities with breeder reac- 
tors. Moreover, the recycle possibili- 
ties with the MEU/Th cycles provide 
an attractive flexibility to meet 
changing conditions. Uranium-233 
has nuclear characteristics superior 
to those of other fissile materials, 
and its use in thermal spectrum re- 
actors can result in a significant re- 


duction in natural uranium require- 
ments. Finally, the radioactivity 
associated with uranium-233 
facilitates safeguards and security 
procedures. . . 

These features of the MEU/Th 
cycle also lead to relatively higher 
rankings with respect to resource, 
power cost, and non-fossil options 
criteria. Overall, the MEU/Th cycles 
appear to have an attraction for 
near-term applications. 

Energy Center Strategy 

The alternative, longer-range 
grand strategy assumes the existence 
of controlled energy centers with 
associated satellite reactors outside 
these energy centers. Although this 
was not explicitly considered in Ta- 
bles 1 and 2, it was implicitly con- 
sidered in the long-term adaptability 
and non-fossil options criteria. 

In this strategy, safeguards sensi- 
tive operations such as reprocessing 
and plutonium utilization in breeder 
reactors would be performed in the 
energy center. Satellite reactors 
would use standard low enriched 
uranium, MEU/Th fuel or fuel com- 
posed ot denatured uranium-233 
and thorium, the latter being re- 
ceived from the energy center. The 
fuel discharged from these satellite 
reactors would be shipped to con- 
trolled energy centers, where re- 
processing would occur. Both 
uranium-233 and plutonium would 
be recovered, and the plutonium 
would be used to fuel other reactors 
producing electricity and additional 
uranium-233. The uranium-233 
would then be denatured and used 
to fabricate MEU/Th fuel elements 
for shipment back to the satellite 

Fortescue has pointed out that the 
best way of coping with plutonium 
in the near and mid-term may be to 
consume it (in large quantities) in 
plutonium/thorium fueled breeders 
in energy centers. 3 Such a breeder 

would consume the plutonium from 
about four light water reactors in an 
equilibrium situation. The breeder 
would produce enough uranium- 
233 to fuel as many as 1 to 1 5 high 
conversion ratio satellite reactors 
outside the energy center, assuming 
the use of undenatured uranium- 
233. The radioactivity associated 
with the uranium-233 might eventu- 
ally make such use acceptable. The 
advantages of the Fortescue scheme 
are that a relatively few number of 
breeders can consume the available 
plutonium, and the ratio of satellite 
reactors to energy center reactors 
can be large. Systems studies indi- 
cate, however, that in the very long 
range these breeder reactors will 
have to produce a self-sustaining 
supply of plutonium as well as 
uranium-233 for "export." 

The MEU/Th cycle is an integral 
part in this alternative strategy, and 
the reason for its high marks against 
the long-term adaptability criterion. 
The energy center concept is, in 
principle, one institutional way of 
achieving good resource utilization, 
low power costs and low prolifera- 
tion risk in the future. The practical 
difficulties in getting such a system 
in operation should not be mini- 
mized, however. 

Eight criteria have been suggested 
against which to evaluate various 
fuel cycles, five of which relate to 
the risk of weapons proliferation. 
When only these five are consid- 
ered, once-through fuel cycles are 
clearly preferred over any form of 
recycle. However, when criteria re- 
lating to power cost, resource utili- 
zation and preserving future non- 
fossil energy options are applied, the 
recycle options appear favorable. 

It appears that cycles using medi- 
um enriched uranium and thorium 
(MEU/Th) rank higher than those 
using only low enriched uranium, 


both with respect to safeguards cri- 
teria and overall. This higher ranking 
is due to 

• the radioactivity associated with 
uranium-233 which facilitates safe- 
guards and security procedures; 

• reduced plutonium production; 

• the better resource utilization 
and power cost economics possible, 
particularly with recycle of 

• the various recycle options pos- 
sible with medium enriched urani- 
um and thorium in the longer range 
future, and 

• the potentially good symbiosis 
possible between breeders and ad- 

vanced converters using some vari- 
ant of the thorium cycle. 

Proliferation concerns in the long 
term are difficult to define at this 
time. Fuel cycles adopted to mini- 
mize near-term concerns should 
have the flexibility to adapt to a 
changing safeguards environment. 


1. C Starr and E. Zebroski. Nuclear Power and Weapons 
Proliferation," paper presented to American Power Confer- 
ence. April 1977 

2. H. A. Feiveson and T. B. Taylor. "Security Implications 
of Alternative Fission Futures." Bulletin, December 1976. 

3. P. Fortescue. "Sustaining an Adequatelv Safeguarded 
Nuclear Energy Supply," International Scientific Forum on an 
Acceptable Future of Nuclear Energy for the Uorld, Fort 
Lauderdale. Florida. Nov' 7-11. 1977. 



Major Winfricd M. Dunkcl, Federal Republic of Germany Army 

ON 2 MAY 1975. the German 
Federal Government deposited in 
Washington and London the 
ratification documents of the Treaty 
on the Nonprohferation of Nuclear 
Weapons tNPTj together with a 
statement on the preconditions under 
which the Federal Republic of 
Germany iFRG) will be a partner to 
the treaty. 1 In taking this action, the 
FKG ended a seven-year discussion on 
che issue of German participation in 
the treaty provisions. The ratification 
discussion in the FKG had concen- 
trated on two major areas: the 
military aspect i?nd economic con- 
siderations. l>oth of which are under 
discussion ago:**. 

Critics can »e heard who label the 
current NATO strategy as being ob- 
solete and require its replacement by 
a European Nuclear Force IKNFM 
Concern and frustration dominate the 
assessment of the economic impact of 
the NIT where development* in the 
world nuclear trading place have 
transformed the problem of rucl» i ar 
proliferation from a potential to an 
immediate danger. ' 

What about nuclear weapons for 
the FKG? 

The NPT ratif:cation process was 
accompanied by intense press cam- 
paigns launched by the Soviet Union 
and other Fast Kuropean countries. 
These campaigns characterized the 
FKG as a revengeful, militaristic state 
whose onlv desire is to acquire 

possession of nuclear weapons. As the 
historic pntcess of integrating the 
FKG into NATO proves, these asser- 
tions lacked foundation. 

After the invasion of South Korea 
in June 19">0, the Western nations 
became more aware of the Communist 
threat to Furope. In addition to other 
plans for Germany, the West now 
added a proposal for rearming the 
FKG and incorporating it into the 
Aclantic Alliance. Obstacles included 
German reluctance to rearm. French 
fears of Germany and persistent and 
acrobatic Soviet maneuvers to 
obstruct Western plans by playing on 
these factors Agreement was reached 
on a plan for a Kuropean Defense 
Community, which would include 
Germany and be tied to NATO, but no 

amount of diplomacy could bring it to 
ratification in France. 1 

American diplomacy suffered 
severely from the interruptions of the 
election campaign in 1952 and • 
change of administrations in 19f>3. In 
19.M. the French Assembly finally 
said "No." A new plan for German 
rearmament in the revived Western 
European Union (WKU) was then 
worked out rapidly by the European 
countries concerned. This plan was 
adopted, and. in May 19.S5. the FKG 
became sovereign and a full member 
of NATO.' 

The negotiations which preceded 
FKG membership in NATO had not 
intended that the WEU be a substitute 

Dunkel, Winfried M. Nuclear proliferation — a 
German view. In Military Review , v. 57, Nov 
1977, pp. 49-55. Copyright material repro- 
duced with permission of copyright holder. 


for the defunct European Defense 
Community. Rather, the hope was 
that the WKL could serve as an 
avenue for German entry into NATO. 
However, the provisions of the 
agreement required that Bonn accept 
considerable arms control 
limitations.* The government 
accepted these measures and repealed 
an earlier willingness to abstain from 
making certain sophisticated military 
items. Furthermore, in the Ivondon 
Protocols of 1954, the German 
Government declared that it will not 
undertake to manufacture atomic, 
chemical or biological weapons. 7 

The FRG hns reinforced its earlier 
renunciation vith numerous official 
statements since 1954. As an example. 
Defense Minister Leber addressed this 
issue in stating that the freedom, 
independence and security of Kurope 
is created and maintained only by the 
US strategic nuclear arsenal and the 
convincing credibility of the United 
States to rink the substance of the 
American nation if the security of 
West Europeans requires that." 

Obviously, the seven years re« 
quired for FRG ratification of the 
NPT was not related to the question 
of acquiring nuclear weapons. Rather, 
the debate was attempting to resolve 
other inaucs. 

Debates in the Bundestag revolved 
around the question of whether the 
NPT would preclude the existence of a 
future united ENF and provide the 
Soviet Union with opportunities to 
interfere with the political process 
leading toward eventual European 
unity. The government emphasized, 
during these debates, that the treaty 
would not allow other powers to exert 
influence on the Atlantic Alliance." In 
addition, the sixth American inter- 
pretation, which stated that a future 
European nuclear status would be 
possible, destroyed the last uncer- 
tainties. "' 

This interpretation theoretically 
leaves room for a "European nuclear 
option.*' A mode! commonly advanced 
is consolidation of current European 
nuclear fortes — that is. to T/u 
ropeanize the French and British 

nuclear potential and to use this as a 
base for developing an ENF. Un- 
doubtedly. such a model would make 
a significant contribution to 
strengthening deterrence in Western 
Europe. It is logical to view the ENF 
as an ultimate goal for a politically 
unified Europe. 

ERF— A Valid Alternative to NAT07 

One should be cautious about this 
idea and avoid illusions about the 
chances of realization or about the 
cost and the independent deterrent 
value of such an ENF. It will be a 
long and difficult task to evolve a 
Europe governed by a common 
political decisionmaking body. The 
uncoordinated, independent efforts of 
some European countries to cope with 
the 1974 oil em bar/go :*erve as in- 
dicators of how rational interests still 
prevail over common European in- 
terests. There is no doubt that now 
neither France nor Great Bntain 
thinks seriously about 

denationalizing their nuclear 
potential. Furthermore, neither 
possesses a reliable second-strike 

According to reliable estimates, 
research and development, ac- 
quisition and maintenance costs of a 
credible European second-strike 
capability would coat $40 billion over 
the t..*xt 10 years." These figures 
illustrate that an ENF realization is 
not probable. Combined with the fait 
that some NATO meml>ers have 
"fro/en" defense budgets, an ENF 
realization seems even more unlikely. 

Even if these difficulties can be 
overcome, it still would not permit 
Western Europe to pursue a viable, 
independent nuclear strat.Ry. The 
existence of an ENF second-.': tike 
capability might deter Warsaw Pact 
agtrr»'ssion in the limited region of 
Central Europe: however, its 
possession does not establish Europe 
as a third superpower. A country that 
strives for superpower status has to be 
able to act and react not only in a 
limited area but also on a global scale. 
Europe's dependence on foreign 


resources, the effect* of limited con- 
flict* in remote are** on European 
policy with no chance of influencing 
them and the Soviet Union* in- 
creasing use of a "proxy strategy" 
preclude Kurope, at present, from 
playing such a role. That is not to say 
that this is not a conceivable future 
role, in a different world constellation, 
for a unified Kurope. Considerations 
about Kuropean nuclear forces may 
not be valid today, but they remain as 
a future Kuropean option that the 
NPT has not eliminated. 

FRG Defense Posture 

With these arguments in mind, the 
only possible way for Kuropean 
nations to meet their security re- 
quirements today is to maintain and 
strengthen the Atlantic Alliance as 
an effective instrument for securing 
peace. Adherence to the alliance. 
therefore, is a cornerstone of German 
foreign policy. 1 - l T S forces in Kurope 
are viewed as a link between tactical 
nuclear weapons deployed on the Ku- 
ropean Continent and the strategic 
nuclear weapons in the United States 
and on the «eas. Considering the 
geostrategic and military situation in' 
Kurope. this interlinkage of escalalory 
capabilities is indispensable to 
defense and fulfills the security in- " 
terests of the FRG. 

The r~ajor problem facing the 
FRG. and the real reason for delay, is 
verification All signatory countries 
are. according to k !ie foreword of the 
NIT. subject to international control 
measures. These contr ols are de signed 
to ensure that no weapons-grade 
material, either uranium or 
plutonium, is separated during the 
fuel cycle process. This is to ensure 
that the use of nuclear energy is 
directed, exclusively, toward peaceful 
goals. These on-site inspections which 
have to be done at cenain sensitive 
points of the reactor process increase 
the danger of technological espionage. 
i To prevent espionage is a major 
jconcern. especially in the field of fast 
I breeder react ors wher e France and the 
FRG are several years ahead of the 
United States. 11 The verification 

negotiations between the Kuropean 
Community of Atomic Knergy <Kur 
atom)' 1 and the Viennese Inter- 
national Atomic Knergy Agency 
ilAKA) took several years and finally 
led to the Verification Agreement 
which meets both the safeguard re- 
quirements as well as the protection 
of technology demands of the Kur- 
atom countries. After reaching this 
accord, the ratification procets was 
merely a formality. 

Yet another aspect of nuclear 
proliferation, until recently almost 
neglected, is attracting attention. 
That is the concern over the rapid 
spread of nuclei! r reactors, uranium 
enrichment facilities and plutonium 
reprocessing plants which could con- 
tribute to the uncontrollable spread of 
nu clear weapons. 

There are basically two types of 
nuclear reactors in use today, the 
heavy water and the light water 
reactor. The fast breeder reactors will, 
at the earliest, achieve commercial 
application 10 years from now and 
are. therefore, not discussed here. n 
The heavy water reactor uses natural 
uranium as fuel, whereas the light 
water reactor needs low enriched 
uranium lor operation. The complete 
fuel cycle of a nuclear power plant is 
portrayed below. 

It consists of three elements: the 
uranium enrichment facility, known 
as the "front end" of the nuclear fuel 
cycle; the nuclear power plant; and 
the "back end." the fuel recycling 
facility. The uranium enriched fuel, 
necessary for running the nuclear 
power plant, is fabricated in the 
uranium enrichment facility. 
Although the degree of uranium 
enrichment is low. uranium 
enrichment facilities are capable of 
producing weapons-grade uranium. 
The back end of the fuel cycle 
reprocesses the nuclear waste; parts of 
the recycled fuel can then, in the form 
of plutonium. again be used in the 
reactor process. 

This back end has caused the most 
concern since the plutonium produced 
in reprocessing facilities could be 
diverted and used in making nuclear 
weapons. Measures have to be taken 


Ura«w»m 739 

Nude* Power Plant Fuel Cyde 











fu* + 

''jlonmm Z39 

to ensure that purchasers. NPT 
signatories an well an nonsignatories. 
do not get accent to nuclear weapons 
through the economic loophole of 
buying a complete fuel cycle. 

Piopo-sed Solutions 

One way would he not to sell fuel 
cycle facilities to customers, but to sell 
only fuel cycle services."* This means 
that the selling country provides only 
the nuclear reactor, but neither the 
uranium enrichment facility nor the 
Plutonium recycling plant. The 
customer is guaranteed the right to 
purchase the fuel from the seller. That 
means that the wiling countries 
would have to build, either separately 
or commonly used, uranium 
enrichment plants and plutonium 
recycling facilities. Bearing in mind 
the European environmental con- 
sciousness, which opposes the con 
struction of nuclear power plants, the 
limited space available, the fact that 
plutonium is extremely toxic and that 
estimates expect W.OOO pounds of 
plutonium a year to be generated by 
nuclear power plants in less developed 
countries by )99U. : * there seems to be 
little chance of realizing this option. 

Further, three other major 
obstacles have to be overcome. This 
proposed system would give US in- 
dustry an advantage over other com- 
petitors since the United States is the 
only country that can offer these 
services today." Secondly, this sales 
attitude is discriminatory to potential 
purchasers because it contains the 
possibility for political blackmail.'* 
Thirdly, potential purchasers hardly 
would he able to develop an industry 
for peaceful use of nuclear energy of 

their own. They remain precluded 
from the sophisticated technology 
used in the recycling process and are, 
therefore, deliberately discriminated 
against. They might view this as a 
violation of Article IV of the NPT." It 
is. therefore, doubtful whether this 
proposal has much chance of 

Another proposal being surfaced is 
that of sharing the world nuclear 
market among all suppliers of nuclear 
power plants and fuel cycle 
facilities.- ' The advantage should be 
to eliminate competition, a com- 
petition which might have caused 
countries to offer complete fuel cycles 
rather than nuclear reactors only io 
gain a purchase advantage. 

The inherent problem of this 
proposal is twofold. The first 
argument is that reactor market- 
sharing is contrary to Western an- 
ticartel policy. It establishes a coerced 
dependency even if the purchaser, 
under normal market circumstances, 
does not want to deal with the seller. 
And what happens if the recipient 
countnes of the Third World refused 
to do business with this cartel? W'hy 
should they not go to the Soviet 
Union, thereby creating a dependency 
that might hurt the Western World? 

The second argument is not likely 
to be satisfied either. The United 
States dominated the nuclear world 
market and provided, between 1968 
and 1971 . more than 90 percent of the 
world reactor export market .-'-' Since 
then, the situation has changed con- 
siderably. Countries like Switzerland. 
.Japan. France, (ireat Britain and the 
FK(i have become strong competitors. 
These countries have inereased their 
market portion of nuclear power 


plant* sold abroad from 10 percent in 
1971 to 78 percent in !975. iJ 
Furthermore, the European domestic 
market is limited. The future nuclear 
market lie* with the developing coun- 
tries. These figures show that 
reaching a market sharing accord will 
be very difficult The United States 
will, based on pas. experiences, most 
likely request a higher market share 
than other countries might be willing 
to accept. 

AH nuclear technology supplier 
countries share the same deep concern 
About the uncontrolled proliferation of 
nuclear weapons, made possible by 
the spread of nuclear reactors and fuel 
cycle facilities. Some American 
publications sponsor either selling 
nuclear power plants without fuel 
cycle technology or sharing the world 
nuclear market. Both prop<rsals are 
unlikely to become reality. They dis- 
criminate against purchasers, violate 
Article IV of the NFT and give the 
United States a distinct economic ad- 

As all reactors and fuel cycle 
facilities are subject to IAEA 
safeguard and verification controls, 
the easiest way to control a theft of 
fissionable material is to improve 
current control measures For in- 
stance, both the West German sale to 
Brazil and the French sale to 
Pakistan are subject expressly to 
IAKA safeguards. In addition, the 
agreements provide for extension of 
IAKA safeguards to any domestic 
copy of the imported plants. The 
assumption that the mere existence of 
such facilitisl#" creates a potential 

nuclear weapons state is both 
dangerous and discriminatory. In- 
stead, every effort should be made to 
improve existing safeguard measures. 
thereby preventing contractors from 
nuclear theft. This seems to be the 
only way for the industrialized 
nations to maintain credibility among 
the Third World countries and to go 
on with a market system that has 
been very successful over the last 


* The late ratification of tne NPT by 
the Federal Republic of Germany was 
not caused by considerations about 
the possible possessitn of nuclear 
weapons. The FKG wanted to ensure 
that there will be a future option for 
European nuclear forces, but 
economic considerations were the 
main reason that delayed ratification. 
Whether the NIT is a viable 
means of preventing other nations 
from building nuclear weapons 
remains to be seen. I believe that if a 
country wants possession of nuclear 
weapons it can get them;-' technology 
and components are well known and 
available on the world market. Thp 
NIT is a step in the right direction. It 
gives us. at least temporarily, more 
security. However, it may not be more 
than a delaying action. If a country 
believes that it can guarantee its 
freedom and independence only by 
nuclear weapons, it will not forfeit its 
option, and safeguard measures 
cannot be perfect enough to prevent 


1 The Hutlrlin. \*rr%* and Information 
Office of the (government of the Federal Republic 
of Germany. Itonn. VHC. U May I97Y 

2 M Worner. "F.ur,>po und die Atlanlmche 
Allmm.' Wrhrktinde, Apnl 1*7*. p 17? 

I A Ki bit off, "A Market Sharing Approach 
t«i the World Nurleur Sale* I'roblem." Foreign 
Affair*. July Im7". pp 7»vih7. 

4 It wan the German Chancellor Konrad 
Adenaoer't* flt-xihilitv that helj»-d to osercome 

the underMtamlahlc r'rent'h containment policy 
toward the Y'Hli and finally led to an uitoio 
Dean Achraon. Skrtthea fVttni Life »( \f,n / 

Hmit Knou a. CrwnwutMf prraa. lor . Wntpmnl. 

Conn. |«*7|. pp 47 and 70 ?| 

ft For further de^-npt.on of this pfiaa*. see 
Robert Mrfieehan Tht Cerman Rr*r-%amrmt 
Qurttmn Amrrtrmn Ihplitmacy mnd ^urooea* 
iKfente After W,.rld War Tu*>. University of 
lllinou !Vr*». Urlmna III. |y.7| 

6 Relevant document* are V. Aoct>\ to the 
North Atlantic Treaty on lh« Arct-aaion of the 


Federal ru public" and "The We»t European 
Union Arrangements." Amen<an Foreign 
Poltey. l*Ui /ViS /Jurumrnra. Department 
of State. WtMhimcWm. I> C, Volume I. pp H7I-7J 
and 972 91 r«»pr<tivrly 

7 London and Pant Agrttmtntt. 
IVpartmvnt of Sutr Publication Numbei .V/i9. 
Washington |) C . November 1**»4 pp 4b 4* The 
current German Chancellor llrlmut Schmidt 
r»Uf..rifes theae protocols under those that 
freete the advantages enjoyed by certain 
partner* and diMnminule openly attains! other 
partner* II S«hmidl. The Balance uf P„uer. 
l-ond-.n. Knit . 1971. p 115. 

The Hulteun. Preaa and Information 
Office of the ( hiv rrnmrnt of Ihr federal hVpuhlir 
of Cirrmany. P-nn. Kkfi. .«i April 1974 

t Urlay From Hunn. fireman Information 
4>nter. N Y . 21 February 1974 

10 "Hattfuierung drt Alomuaffentpemer 
IratX*." Wrh'kunde. January 1974. p 47 

11 Cjuotrd by Wornrr. op of. p 178 

12 fc'Aife Paper 1975 1976 The Security of 
the Federal K< public of Germany and the 
Ihnvtopmenl of ihr Federal Armed Force*. Bonn. 
P/WS. I97fi. p 47 

I J Paul L Jo»kow. The International 
Nik bar Industry Today." Furetpn Affairs, July 
1976 p 797 

11 Furalom it a community constating uf 
several Kuropran nation* It wag («.un<lrd t-» 
rruikr a <ornhined Kumpean effort in nutlear 

15 Kibicoff. op ctl . p 7K.I 

16 This ha* been and still is I'S aal.*» policy 
Arma V>,ntr>>l ktp>>it. I'S Arm* Control and 
Dis.irmaint nl Agency, Washington. |> l" . July 
I97K. pp fall M 

17 Quoted Ivy KiUrnff. on at . p 7« 

1M r ranee and the I'KO will. andat the 
fnr-r»eeahie building program for enrichment 
planta. not even be abar to aupply their domestic 

market by I9A.', Hut even the Iniled State* 
failed to increase the rapacity of iu 
enmhment plant* and announced, in I974 that 
il could no« arte**, uranium enrwhrncnt order* 
for nuclear po*rr plants s.-ld **ter that >ear 
Kil»i<-.ff op cif . pp ?bt and 7hS. footnote -k» 

19 The validity of thra argument is proved 
by the recent Canadian violation of the uranium 
aupplv i «ltt raw 1 between Canada and KuTope In 
January l**77. the Canadian* stopped their 
supply of uranium and s.-inounird that they will 
not resume it unices the Kuropr ana permit them 
to che<k on the whereah. uu of the uranium in 
Kufopran reactor* Frankfurter AU^.mnne 
Zrttuin *> Mar,h IM77 and I Apnl 1977. and 
the Welt. 7 n Apnl 1977 Another indication fi-r 
the n«!ritne*» uf thia argument i« the propi/*j| 
madr by Srnator A Kihutyff. ihaarrtian •>( the 
Senate Committ*^ on (it.wrnmenl Oprrjtiona. 
that drall *>ith the proliferation pn.hlrm 
Kih;«-off prup<4Mrd to impoM- a uranium enn« bed 
fuel embargo on Kuroprad countn«-» in ordrr t<» 
make th«m a»jrre to I'S pro(it*ala Hilacoff. t>p 
cil . pp T>»t >si 

".it Article IV of the treaty statra * Nothina: 
in thia Treaty ahall he mt»-rpr*ted aa aflrclm* 
the in.ilonable Hiclil oi all >he I'artira to the 
Treaty to develop re»»e.iri h. prodwition and u*e t4 
nuclear rnericy for peaceful purpo»<-s without 
diMnmination and in otnformity »uh ArtuU-a 1 
and II of thia Treaty " 

21 Hibio.ff op ut . pp 774 79 

22 Joakuw. op rif . p 79*2 

2-1 Quoted by Kibtcoff. op cit . p 77*. 
footnote 21 

21 A reaearch reactor ia capable of 
producing en<>ui(h plutonium U,t two Kimba a 
year It could U- built and put into t.;»-r.iti >n 
within f<>ur yr.ira The toot for thia |«-nod would 
in- iilnMil $11 million KihiK.lf op at. p "r>1. .tl 

2A Morgenlhau emphaaues thia point 
aayinil that thr »tru|(i;le (»r t>.-»er ii» the moving 
forte of international |Hi|itt«*a ll.ina J 
Morgrnthau. tohlu* \ .Vafiuna Ihr 
Stru^tslt- for h-utr and Peace I ihh !Miti<>n. 
AlfrrJ A Inc . N V, 1*7 ». p |<rt» 


Gray Marketeering" 

Leivis A. Dunn 

India's detonation of a 
nuclear explosive device, using plutonium derived from a Canadian-supplied re- 
search reactor, has focused attention upon sales of civilian nuclear power technol- 
ogy to countries whose nuclear weapon ambitions remain unclear. Consequently, 
at the London talks among the major suppliers of nuclear power technology, the 
United States has sought ro foster agreement upon additional rules and procedures 
regulating their nuclear power exports. It has also responded by pushing for 
strengthened International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards over such 
exports. Similarly, various bills and resolutions under discussion in the United 
States Congress would require more stringent controls over future sales of nuclear 
fuels and technology. 

In this focus upon the nuclear power route to nuclear weapons, one problem, 
however, has been either overlooked or discounted as too speculative: emerg- 
ence in the early to mid-1980s, if not before, of nuclear "gray marketeering." 1 
Its emergence would be a critical proliferation turning point, accelerating the 
pace, changing the characteristics, and increasing the scope of future prolifera- 
tion. Moreover, initial success of the above-mentioned attempts to control "legi- 
timate" nuclear dealings more tightly need not preclude the growth of "gray 
marketeering"; it might provide instead one additional stimulus to that growth. 

Nuclear "Gray Marketeering" 

A spectrum of potential activitives, each involving the undisciplined dissemina- 

1. The term "gray marketeering" is intended to focus serious attention upon a spectrum of 
activities whose emergence would gravely undermine recent nuclear-power oriented efforts to 
increase constraints upon potential proliferators. Depending upon the particular activity, if not 
also upon the specific participants involved in the transaction, its precise legal status could 
vary. The transactions discussed below, for example, range from covert government-to-govern- 
ment exchanges legally permissible under each country's laws, to unacknowledged circumven- 
tion of declared governmental policies by semi-official bodies within that country, and include 
activities which may be legal under one of the participant's laws but illegal under that of the 
other. For our present purposes, however, distinguishing the precise legal character of a given 
transaction and developing a matrix of legal, contractual, and jurisdictional categories to 
differentiate the various legal characters of all such transactions is less important than begin- 
ning to delineate the component's of yet another route to nuclear weapons and setting out 
the pressures that may result in its emergence. 

Dunn, Lewis A. Nuclear "Gray Marketeering." In 
International Security 1, no. 3 (Winter 1977) 
pp. 107-118. Copyright 1976 by the President 
and Fellows of Harvard College. 


tion of nuclear exports, exists. It encompasses covert or officially unacknowl- 
edged assistance in developing nuclear weapons; the ready availability of scien- 
tific mercenaries; and the sale, barter, or gift of nuclear weapons or their com- 

Covert or officially unacknowledged assistance to a candidate or new nu- 
clear weapon state could range from help in developing the infrastructure for a 
nuclear weapon program (e.g., the sale of unsafeguarded plutonium reprocessing 
and/or uranium enrichment technology and equipment) to assistance in weap- 
on design and fabrication (e.g., the transfer of "advanced" design principles and 
nuclear weapon test results). For example, recent assertions, strongly challenged 
by the Bonn Government, of possible covert West German assistance to and in- 
volvement in South Africa's development of uranium enrichment technology 2 
point to one type of direct linkage that could grow in importance by the 1980s. 
Moreover, the continued global dissemination of nuclear technology, facilities, 
expertise, and materials is providing a growing number of countries with at least 
some capability to engage in such transactions, albeit at the covert level to avoid 
being caught violating safeguards agreements. 3 Less direct assistance is also 

2. The controversy surrounding that possibility arose following the publication of articles in 
The Observer, Stern, and Der Speigel based upon secret documents supplied by the African Na- 
tional Congress. The documents, claimed to have been stolen from West German ministries and 
from the South African embassy in Bonn, revealed the growth after 1968 of extensive contacts 
between West German ministries, the state-owned Society for Nuclear Research, the state- 
controlled fuel company STEAG, and private West German companies and the South African 
Atomic Energy Commission and the South African Uranium Enrichment Corporation. A letter 
of July 12, 1972, from the West German State Secretary at the Ministry of Education to the 
president of the South African Atomic Energy Board, for example, referred to how to keep West 
German participation secret. And, at an inter-ministerial meeting in Bonn in September 1972, 
the decision reportedly was taken to support cooperation between the two countries in develop- 
ing South Africa's uranium enrichment plant. Although it could be claimed, in light of a deci- 
sion the month before not to become financially involved, that only unofficial cooperation was 
implied, the clandestine visit to South Africa as a guest of the Defense Ministry in October 
1974 of Lieutenant-General Gunther Rail (forced to resign following revelation of the docu- 
ments) appears to support the contention that more may have been involved. The Bonn Govern- 
ment's position, however, remains that "all speculation about co-operation between the two 
governments is unfounded." The Observer, October 5, 1975; Le Monde, October 8, 1975. 

3. Indicators of that continuing global dissemination include: an expected four-fold increase in 
installed nuclear power capacity between 1974 and 1980, with twenty-eight countries planning 
to have at least one nuclear power reactor by 1980 and a total of 400 reactors worldwide; pro- 
jected efforts by nearly fifty less developed countries to develop or expand their civilian 
nuclear infrastructure during the 1980s; current plans on the part of Brazil, Iran, Argentina, 
India, Spain, Pakistan, Japan, Taiwan, and perhaps South Korea to build or expand indigenous 
plutonium reprocessing facilities; and the future spread of enrichment technology, according 
to present estimates, to at least Brazil, South Africa, Japan, Israel, and eventually Iran and 
Spain (via Eurodif). See Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Preventing Nu- 
clear-Weapon Proliferation (Stockholm: SIPRI, 1975), pp. 7-20; Congressional Research Ser- 


conceivable. A future nuclear supplier, a group likely to include Japan, India, 
and perhaps South Africa (for fuel] by the mid- to late 1980s, might decide to sup- 
ply nuclear technology, equipment, or fuel to a new Nth country's civilian nuclear 
industry despite that country's violation of prior safeguards agreements, but 
do so covertly to avoid possible repercussions. Such action would reduce the 
costs of "going nuclear," which previously might have included complete loss 
of access to advanced civilian nuclear technology. 

The ready availability of scientific mercenaries, willing to sell their services 
to any country seeking to develop nuclear weapons, also would characterize "gray 
marketeering." 4 Both the use of conventional mercenaries in the African wars 
of the 1960s and 1970s and the presence of former German rocket scientists in 
Egypt in the 1950s and early 1960s are well known. An even more striking prece- 
dent for such transactions exists. Soon after the creation of the Argentine National 
Commission of Atomic Energy in 1950, rumors circulated in Buenos Aires of on- 
going Argentine research that could lead to an atom bomb. They stemmed 
from President Juan Peron's decision to employ an Austrian emigre-scientist, 
Ronald Richter, who had previously been engaged in nuclear research in Nazi 
Germany. Although by 1952 Peron's decision was a subject of derision and Rich- 
ter was dismissed, 5 in the future such efforts to purchase scientific talent may 
prove more successful. 6 

The most extreme form of "gray marketeering" would be the sale, barter, or 
gift of nuclear weapons or of the "blueprints" and special nuclear materials 
for their construction. Libya's Colonel Qaddafi apparently attempted, although 

vice, Facts on Nuclear Proliferation: A Handbook (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing 
Office, 1975), pp. 166-167, pp. 127-129, pp. 105-106. 

4. The global nuclear industry will require approximately 115,000 trained engineers in 1980. 
Even taking into account possible difficulties in training that many persons, a sizable pool of 
scientific and technical manpower, some of whom would be conversant with plutonium re- 
processing, materials handling, and related fuel cycle technologies, can be expected to exist. 
See S. B. Hammond, J. A. Lane, A. Rogov, and R. Skjoeldebrand, "Manpower Requirements for 
Future Nuclear Power Programmes," International Atomic Energy Agency Bulletin, Volume 17, 
Number 4 (August 1975), pp. 16-17. Of even greater value to a fledgling Nth country weapon 
program would be individuals who had worked within the nuclear weapon programs of one of 
the existing nuclear weapon countries. Depending upon such persons' levels of expertise and 
prior responsibilities, this pool of "potential" scientific mercenaries could number from tens 
to thousands. Of course, virtually all of these persons would likely refuse any offers to sign-on 
as scientific mercenaries. 

5. John R. Redick, Military Potential of Latin American Nuclear Energy Programs (Beverly 
Hills: Sage Publications, 1972), p. 12. 

6. There are unconfirmed reports that some of the approximately 200 European nuclear engi- 
neers cognizant of plutonium reprocessing technology presently are consulting in less devel- 
oped countries. 

37-189 O - 79 


unsuccessfully., to purchase a nuclear weapon from China in 1970. 7 Undaunted 
by this initial failure, Qaddafi more recently has commented: "A few years ago, 
we could scarcely procure a squadron of fighter planes. Tomorrow, it will be possi- 
ble to buy an atomic bomb and its components." 8 Previously noted global dis- 
semination of nuclear reactors, expertise, and associated facilities is inexorably 
increasing the number of potential sources of those components, if not eventually 
of the weapons themselves. 9 The extent to which the 1980s feature the growth of 
these and related "gray market" activities will depend heavily upon the 
strength of the pressures discussed below. 

Pressures for "Gray Marketeering" 

Diverse economic pressures could contribute to the emergence of the preceding 
types of transactions. One way a new nuclear weapon state could attempt either 
to reduce the financial and opportunity costs of its existing program or to make 
feasible a more ambitious program would be by selling technical assistance, or 
perhaps the weapons themselves or their critical components, to other aspirant 
nuclear weapon states. 10 Or, an Nth country might seek to barter such assistance 
or weapons for other vital resources. For instance, given growing balance of pay- 
ments deficits, the high cost of oil, and the impact of both upon Indian economic 
development objectives, a future Indian government might well reverse present 
policy and use India's nuclear expertise as a "service good" to be traded for oil 

} — — - — 

7. This, as well as other Arab attempts to purchase nuclear weapons, is reported by Steven J. 
Rosen, "Nuclearization and Stability in the Middle East," in Nuclear Proliferation and the 
Near-Nuclear Countries, eds. Onkar Marwah and Ann Schulz (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Pub- 
lishing Company, 1975), p. 178. 

8. Le Point, January 20, 1975, p. 38. 

9. By way of illustration, cumulative plutonium production (within spent fuel elements) as 
of 1980 in the following selected countries is likely to be: Argentina: 1,100 kilograms (kg); 
Brazil: 620 kg; Spain: 8,240 kg; India: 2,700 kg; Korea: 820 kg; Pakistan: 360 kg; Japan: 
21,200 kg; Taiwan: 1,640 kg. Between 4-8 kg is estimated to be sufficient for a bomb. Facts 
on Proliferation, p. 120. 

10. The 1967 United Nations Secretary General's report on proliferation estimated that the 
ten-year cost of a small unsophisticated force would be approximately $2.3 billion [adjusted 
for inflation] and that of a small high-quality force $7.4 billion. Even these levels of expendi- 
ture, and particularly the latter, both of which probably underestimate the absolute costs in- 
volved, would entail a significant increase over existing defense expenditures in such potential 
Nth countries, whose 1975 defense expenditures are listed in parentheses, as: Argentina ($1 
billion), Brazil ($1.2 billion), Pakistan ($0.7 billion), South Africa ($1.3 billion), South Korea 
($0.7 billion), and Taiwan ($1 billion). Effects of the Possible Use of Nuclear Weapons and the 
Security and Economic Implications for States of the Acquisition and Further Development of 
These Weapons (U.N. Document A/6858, New York, 1968); The Military Balance 1975-1976 
(London : International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1975). 


with one or another Arab country. 11 Alternatively, under the political and eco- 
nomic conditions discussed below, pursuit of commercial advantage could lead 
either one of the present nuclear exporters or a country attempting to break 
into the nuclear exports business, such as Japan, to engage in "gray market" 
dealings. Finally, the prospect of personal financial gain clearly would be an 
important motivation of future scientific mercenaries. 

In certain situations, ad hoc pursuit of narrow political advantage also might 
lead a state to engage in "gray marketeering." To a nuclear-armed Pakistan, 
a possibility by the early 1980s, for example, the provision of technical assistance, 
if not the sale of one or more nuclear weapons, might be seen as a useful means 
of acquiring or solidifying Arab, or perhaps Iranian, political support in its con- 
frontation with India. 12 Conversely, India might find itself ready to trade such 
assistance for Arab or Iranian non-support of Pakistan. 13 And, reciprocal fears in 
India and Pakistan that the other might be thinking about how to use its nascent 
nuclear weapon potential as an export commodity would increase the pressure on 
each to do so first. Preemptive "gray marketeering" could be the result. 

Nor should potential pressures stemming from broader ideological and politi- 
cal perspectives be overlooked. Regarding the former, many of the most likely 
potential nuclear weapon states are less developed, Third World countries. 14 
Generally adopting a similar position on North-South global-equity issues, 

11. India's imported oil bill is estimated to have increased from $265 million in 1972 to $1.3 
billion in 1974. By way of comparison, in 1974 the net aid flow to India from Development 
Assistance Countries, OPEC, and concessional multilateral agencies was $1.38 billion. James 
W. Howe et al., The U.S. and the Developing World (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974), p. 
180, 197. 

12. Pakistan has been providing limited military assistance and training personnel to Jordan, 
Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the Arab Emirates. Emigration of Pakistani 
technicians and professionals to the richer Middle East countries has also been occurring. On 
the other hand, Pakistan has been a major recipient of OPEC aid, with Iran providing a loan 
of $580 million and Saudi Arabia one of $100 million. Such ties could provide both a founda- 
tion for and means of camouflaging future "gray market" dealings. The Financial Times, August 
11, 1975; The New York Times, February 8, 1976. 

13. Currently, Egyptian scientists are being trained at the Bhaba Atomic Research Center at 
Trombay. In addition, there has been talk of an Egyptian-Indian nuclear cooperation agree- 
ment, presumably comparable to the one that India signed with Argentina. Lawrence Ziring, 
"Recent Trends in Pakistan's Fpreign Policy," Asian Survey, Volume 2, Number 5 (May/June 
1975), p. 302; The New York Times, June 26, 1975. 

14. This group includes India, Pakistan, Iran, Libya, Egypt, Argentina, and Brazil. Although 
the balance of pressures for and constraints against "going nuclear" varies from country to 
country, in each case significant incentives for acquiring nuclear weapons presently exist and 
may well intensify in the next few years. See Lewis A. Dunn and Herman Kahn, Trends in Nu- 
clear Proliferation (Hudson Institute, HI-2336/3-RR, May 15, 1976). Report prepared for the 
U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. 


this group has expressed its resentment as well of the perceived division of the 
world into nuclear haves and nuclear have-nots. But, continued strengthening 
of nuclear exports controls and safeguards by the major nuclear suppliers, par- 
ticularly if followed by efforts to retard proliferation by inflicting sanctions upon 
the next Nth countries, would be likely to reinforce that shared ideological per- 
spective. Consequently, whatever self-imposed normative restrictions upon such 
"nuclear sharing" that may exist could be eroded. That is, at least to some 
members of the Third World, helping other closely tied countries to acquire 
nuclear weapons could come to be regarded as a legitimate response to the 
perceived Western domination. Among the scientific mercenaries there are also 
likely to be some who would be motivated by this ideological concern. 

Alternatively, there exists a second group of candidate nuclear weapon coun- 
tries — Israel, South Africa, and Taiwan — that are likely to find themselves in- 
creasingly isolated internationally as time passes. Taken together, these interna- 
tional outcasts comprise a potential "pariah international." 15 Building upon 
and transforming existing linkages among them (e.g., South African-Israeli co- 
operation in the fields of advanced scientific technology, conventional arms, and 
perhaps nuclear undertakings 1 "), such a "pariah international" might soon in- 
volve extensive internal nuclear weapon cooperation and transactions — stopping 
short only of the sale of nuclear weapons, which in their case would be unneces- 
sary anyway. Nonetheless, once rumors of their clandestine cooperation began 
to circulate, both the scope and character of global "gray marketeering" could be 
expected to become less constrained. 

One final factor which paradoxically might contribute to the emergence of the 
preceding types of nuclear transactions could be the very efforts of the major 
nuclear suppliers to tighten controls and safeguards over their nuclear exports. 
For example, it has been reported that at the London suppliers' talks the major 
nuclear exporters agreed to require a guarantee from present nuclear importers 
that any facilities, materials, or technology they might eventually re-export 

15. This phrase was suggested to the author by Robert Harkavy. 

16. During Prime Minister Vorster's recent visit to Israel, agreement was reached on a pact 
promoting economic and scientific cooperation and trade between the two countries. Both sides 
denied as unfounded, however, speculation about South African financial support of the Is- 
raeli defense industry, purchase by South Africa of the Israeli Kfir jet fighter, and Israeli pur- 
chase of South African uranium. It has been reported, nevertheless, that South Africa is fab- 
ricating the armor plate for the new Israeli-produced Ben Gurion desert tank and rumors that 
Israeli scientists and technicians are present in South Africa continue to circulate. The New 
York Times, April 18, 1976; The Economist, April 17, 1976 and August 28, 1976; Far Eastern 
Economic Review, September 10, 1976. 


would be subject to IAEA safeguards. 17 Should presently unforeseeable politi- 
cal or economic circumstances lead a country such as Iran or Brazil to seek to re- 
nege on its earlier guarantee, covert "gray market" dealings could be the out- 
come. Or should commercial pressures become sufficiently intense, individual 
private firms might engage in proscribed technology transfers as a means of at- 
taining a competitive edge contradicting their own governments' policies. More 
generally, it is difficult to believe that, as the future structure of nuclear exports 
controls evolves, ways to circumvent that structure through "gray market" 
dealings are not likely to be sought by at least some potential proliferators or 
nuclear suppliers. 

The preceding discussion has tended to assume that excepting those scientific 
mercenaries who were nationals of the major nuclear suppliers, the latter countries 
would not be involved in the initial growth of these activities and linkages. Rath- 
er, it appears more likely that the critical impetus would come from among the 
candidate and first new nuclear weapon states. However, under certain condi- 
tions, eventual "gray marketeering," though probably not including the sale of 
nuclear weapons, by the "majors" cannot be precluded. Were an initial spurt 
of proliferation in the late 1970s-early 1980s to engender a growing sense of 
futility about efforts to avoid widespread proliferation, pressures to reassess 
their position would also grow. At that time, one or more of the major nuclear 
suppliers might decide to provide clandestine assistance to a potential nuclear 
weapon state or to transfer only nominally-safeguarded facilities and technology 
if that were the price of commercial power reactor sales. Each of the major nuclear 
suppliers would ask why it should continue to adhere to the previously agreed- 
upon restrictions in pursuit of what was becoming a lost cause. Moreover, pres- 
sures to do so could be strengthened were a significant shrinkage of the domestic 
market for nuclear reactor sales — induced, perhaps, by domestic political oppo- 
sition to nuclear power — to have occurred in the meantime, increasing the rela- 
tive importance of nuclear exports. 18 Initially, dummy corporations and com- 
parable devices could be used to camouflage any such movement to breach the 

17. The New York Times, June 2, 1976. 

18. The impact of commercial pressures for expanded nuclear power exports is already evi- 
dent to a lesser degree. For example, it has been suggested that the Brazil-West Germany deal 
"may well [have been] an important factor in the economic viability of the German manufac- 
turers [because] some of KWU's [Kraftwerke Union] largest machine tools . . . depend on a 
minimum throughput of at least six large units per year." Nuclear Engineering International, 
(April/May 1976), p. 102. Failure to win the Brazil contract would have represented, there- 
fore, not simply the loss of an individual sale, but a serious threat to an important industrial 
sector directly employing 25,000 persons. 


framework of those restrictions. 19 And, to repeat, given such intense commer- 
cial pressures, even individual private companies within the major suppliers 
might begin to engage in some "gray marketeering," e.g., clandestinely 
supplying plutonium reprocessing or eventually even uranium enrichment 
technology. Just as monetary bribes were utilized in the past, in the future such 
transactions could be used to influence key decisions. 

A Critical Turning Point 

The full-blown emergence of nuclear "gray marketeering" would be a critical 
proliferation turning point. As suggested earlier, it would accelerate the pace, 
change the characteristics, and increase the scope of proliferation. 

First, nuclear "gray marketeering" would have both direct and indirect accel- 
erating effects upon the pace of future proliferation. Turning to those direct ef- 
fects, the availability of foreign assistance — whether in the form of covert or 
semi-official cooperation, or of scientific mercenaries — would alleviate the tech- 
nical problems confronting aspirant nuclear weapon states, speeding up their ad- 
vance to nuclear weapon status. Should continued public speculation about a 
covert Israeli nuclear weapon capability, for example, finally result in triggering 
efforts by Egypt, Libya, and Iraq to acquire nuclear weapons or a nuclear weapon 
option, their endeavors could be accelerated significantly by such help. Con- 
comitantly, insofar as the "gray market" comes to encompass a readiness on the 
part of the major nuclear suppliers to "look the other way," an important con- 
straint upon certain potential Nth countries would have been removed. Thus 
some countries that might have decided eventually to develop nuclear weapons 
now would be likely to do so earlier. This would be the case because that decision 
no longer would be retarded by fear of sanctions and the consequences for their 
civilian nuclear programs should their access to advanced nuclear technology and 
nuclear fuels be terminated. Iran and Brazil come to mind as examples. Finally, in 
certain regional strategic situations the successful purchase of one or more "gray 
market" nuclear weapons could trigger a whole chain of further proliferation 
decisions. Should Colonel Qaddafi, for example, finally succeed in purchasing 
a few nuclear weapons for Libya in the 1980s, countries such as Egypt, Israel, 
Iraq, Syria, and eventually Saudi Arabia and Iran would come under extremely 
heavy pressures to follow suit. 

19. A parallel exists. Considerable, and usually successful, efforts are routinely made in the 
wheat export business to hide the ultimate destination of a percentage of those shipments. 


Alternatively, by increasing proliferation momentum, that is, the perception 
that the nonproliferation effort is crumbling and that many other countries are 
likely to "go nuclear," and sooner, nuclear "gray marketeering" would indirectly 
accelerate proliferation's pace. Pressures to join the apparent trend would grow. In 
the Shah's words: "If every upstart in the region acquires atomic bombs, then 
Iran must have them as well." 20 Similarly, pressures to proliferate preemptively 
against regional opponents who are now perceived to be more likely than before 
to decide to develop nuclear weapons, as well as more capable of successfully car- 
rying out that decision, can be expected to increase. An early 1980s Argentine de- 
cision "to jump the gun on Brazil" could be triggered by such calculations. 

Second, the characteristics of future proliferation would be changed. The in- 
creased availability of necessary inputs (e.g., metallurgical techniques, electron- 
ics, instrumentation and monitoring equipment, and principles of advanced weap- 
on design) would permit low-to-medium technology countries that already had 
decided to "go nuclear" to procure more "sophisticated" nuclear forces than other- 
wise might have been feasible. For example, in the hypothetical Libya-triggered 
Middle East proliferation chain suggested above, nuclear weapon programs in 
countries such as Egypt, Syria, and Iraq could be expected to benefit signifi- 
cantly from the availability of scientific mercenaries and covert foreign assis- 
tance. In certain cases only the availability of such outside assistance would 
permit an aspirant Nth country to go beyond empty posturing. 

The broader implications of transactions in technical assistance for Nth coun- 
try programs appear mixed. The help of competent and experienced scientific 
mercenaries might allow future Nth countries to acquire more militarily effective 
and usable nuclear forces. But, at the same time, such forces might have become 
less accident-prone and subject to better command and control procedures. 21 In 
another regard, however, the availability of rmtside scientific expertise and assis- 
tance could be highly destabilizing. Should "gray marketeering" come to en- 
compass dealings in new uranium enrichment technologies (e.g., centrifuge, jet 
nozzle, or eventually perhaps laser isotope separation) and purchases of highly 
sophisticated weapon-design information, future Nth countries might then be 
able to move significantly more rapidly into the development of fusion as opposed 

20. The Observer, November 16, 1975. 

21. Procuring such a force is neither easy nor cheap. For example, the accident-proofing of 
current American nuclear weapons is such that they can be dropped accidently without pro- 
ducing a nuclear yield and are able to survive the heat and impact of air crashes. Achieving 
this capability required a considerable expenditure of money and thought in the early to mid- 


to fission weapons. The characteristic features of a proliferated world would have 
changed accordingly in a fundamental way. Because barring such outside inter- 
vention most, if not nearly all, future Nth countries are likely to be limited over 
the next ten to twenty years to the development of fission weapons, this poten- 
tial impact of "gray marketeering" should not be minimized. 22 

Similarly, "gray market" barter, sale, or gifts of nuclear weapons would also 
change proliferation's characteristics. The likelihood that at least some nonna- 
tional groups would come to possess nuclear weapons would increase signifi- 
cantly. Consequently, the risk of both nuclear terrorism and nuclear extortion 
would grow commensurately. 

Third, the growth of a nuclear exports "gray market" would increase the scope 
of future proliferation. Clearly this would result if nuclear weapons or nuclear 
weapon-design information and special nuclear materials become available to 
countries lacking a nuclear infrastructure but willing to pay the necessary eco- 
nomic or political price for them. However, a similar direct expansion of the 
scope of proliferation could occur even were nuclear "gray marketeering" not to 
involve widespread barter or transfer of nuclear weapons. Assuming the avail- 
ability of the new uranium enrichment technologies, aspirant Nth countries, 
either possessing or able to acquire natural uranium — perhaps also by covert 
dealings — could again skip the power reactor route. 

In addition to these direct consequences, the growth of nuclear "gray marketeer- 
ing" would probably indirectly increase proliferation's scope. By increasing 
proliferation momentum and thus the pace of proliferation, the emergence of 
a "gray market" would reinforce the fashionableness of acquiring nuclear 
weapons. A growing number of countries, otherwise likely not to be attracted 
to the possession of nuclear weapons, might seek to acquire them simply because 
it was "in fashion" to do so. At least for some of these countries, the availability 
of "gray market" assistance, if not the weapons themselves, would expedite 
their entry into the nuclear club. 

Thus, the emergence of the spectrum of activities encompassed by the term 
"gray marketeering" would be a critical proliferation turning point. Furthermore, 
in the context of a growing potential supply, a variety of pressures, some 
already gaining strength and others likely to grow in importance as additional 
countries either acquire a nuclear weapon option or actually launch a nuclear 

22. One caveat is in order. As the experience of the People's Republic of China indicates, some 
future Nth country might move more rapidly to successful development of fusion weapons 
than appears likely now. But even noting the surprisingly rapid Chinese progress, on the 
whole the above statement is likely to be borne out by future events. 


weapon program, could result in that outcome. What are the implications for 
anti-proliferation policy, which has previously focused upon the nuclear power 
route to nuclear weapons? 

Implications for Anti-Proliferation Policy 

A world of many more nuclear weapon states is likely to be an increasingly com- 
petitive and nasty place, one in which the United States and other nations would 
find themselves directly threatened in a variety of ways. Reasons of space preclude 
a detailed presentation of this argument. 23 Suffice it to suggest that those who 
would minimize the dangers of proliferation have not sufficiently thought 
through the likely characteristics of a proliferated world. Such a world would en- 
tail the spread of nuclear weapons to politically unstable, economically and tech- 
nologically less developed Third World countries and would involve the nu- 
clearization of regional strategic situations already the foci of politico-military 
conflict. In such an environment policymakers would confront, among other 
risks, unauthorized, terrorist, anonymous, and calculated nuclear weapon use; 
nuclear blackmail; superpower clashes arising out of Nth country disputes; and 
the slow conventionalization of nuclear weapons as small power nuclear wars 
erode the nuclear threshold. Not least importantly, efforts to manage the dangers 
of a proliferated world might lead to the corrosion of political authority and 
legitimacy within the Western democracies, as liberal democratic values and 
procedures gave way in an attempt to protect against proliferation's dangers 
and to restore a lost sense of security. 24 

Given these risks, efforts to retard proliferation, including the attempt to 
reach agreement among the major nuclear suppliers upon tighter nuclear exports 
controls, are necessary. But even assuming increased major supplier restraint ini- 
tially, the varied pressures noted earlier could result in the emergence of "gray 
marketeering" vitiating that and other nonproliferation activities. 

Thus, in designing future policies regarding proliferation, more serious atten- 

23. See Dunn and Kahn, Trends in Nuclear Proliferation, pp. 114-139. 

24. For example, in an attempt to insure against clandestine introduction of nuclear 
weapons into the United States — a tactic which could appeal not only to potential terrorists but 
also to countries seeking a minimal deterrent threat against the United States — restrictions 
over governmental power in such civil liberties areas as search and seizure, arrest and ques- 
tioning of suspects, wiretapping and more sophisticated surveillance methods, and collection 
and computer storage of dossiers might be gradually eroded. Similarly, restrictions on move- 
ment in and out of the United States and on movement within could grow, e.g., rigid controls, 
if not virtual banning, of private flying in large areas of the United States might be deemed 


tion should be paid to the possible growth of nuclear ''gray marketeering." To 
do so would involve : 

More detailed analysis of those sequences of events which could culminate in 
that development and of the specific legal, contractual, and jurisdictional charac- 
teristics of the various activities encompassed by "gray marketeering." 

Identification of the most likely potential buyers and sellers and monitoring 
of existing and emerging linkages among and between them. 

Delineation and evaluation of policy options for either preventing the emerg- 
ence of "gray marketeering" or influencing its characteristics and circumscribing 
its consequences. 

Regarding the latter, even were it to prove impossible or overly costly to prevent 
some "gray marketeering," it might be possible to avoid the most extreme 
variants of that phenomenon. In particular, how the United States and other na- 
tions might attempt to dissuade or, if necessary, respond to the first barter or 
transfer of one or more nuclear weapons warrants careful attention. 

The emergence of the spectrum of transactions discussed here would be a 
critical proliferation turning point and should be recognized as such. It is not too 
soon to begin thinking about the implications for anti-proliferation policy of nu- 
clear "gray marketeering." 




The following address was given by Dr. Sigvard 
Eklund, Director General, International Atomic 
Energy Agency, to the British Nuclear Energy 
Society on 8th December, 1 977. 


Allow me to say at the outset how honoured 
I am to have been invited to attend the annual 
dinner of the British Nuclear Energy Society. 
During the intervening 14 years since I last 
had the pleasure of dining with you, a great 
deal has happened. Three major international 
conferences on the peaceful uses of atomic 
energy have been held; two of these in 
Geneva in 1964 and 1971 and a third in 
Salzburg this year on Nuclear Power and its 
Fuel Cycle. In October this year the Inter- 
national Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation 
(INFCE) was initiated at the organizing 
conference held in Washington D.C. During 
this period we have seen the rise to technical 
maturity of the Magnox reactors and have 
watched their offspring, the AGR, leave its 
teething troubles behind. We have also 
watched the water reactors develop to a high 
level of technical maturity, and we have 
witnessed great progress in the field of fast 

In the modern world, which is filled with 
unavoidable lisks for its inhabitants, the 
nuclear industry and its proponents have had 
the enormous satisfaction of being able to 
record the fact that to date there has not been 
a single fatal accident involving radiation 
from a nuclear power reactor. 

Despite this excellent safety record we have, 
to say the least, witnessed a decline in the 
public and governmental interest in nuclear 
power. This first became evident, perhaps, in 
relation to another impressive scientific and 
technological achievement, namely the ex- 
ploration of space; later we have seen an 
outright opposition to nuclear power which 
has grown from the initial spontaneous 
outbursts into the present well-organized 
anti-nuclear movement. 

It is not my intention to analyze the nature 
of this opposition, which has concentrated on 
different issues at different times, and which 
has shifted its emphasis from the supply of 

uranium to questions relating to the safety of 
reactors, to the disposal of radioactive waste 
and expended fuel, and to the assumed 
connection between nuclear power and 
nuclear weapons. I would prefer instead to use 
the time to say a few words about nuclear 
proliferation, a topic in which the organiza- 
tion I serve, the Internationa! Atomic Energy 
Agency, is very much involved. In so doing I 
am repeating statements which I, or senior 
collaborators, e.g. Messrs. Fischer and Rom- 
etsch, have made on various occasions. I 
should mention at the outset, however, that I 
do not believe it possible to provide a better 
statement on the subject than that already 
recorded by your President, Dr. Wolf, in the 
October issue of your journal or than that 
presented in the lecture given in this country 
by Sir John Hill in April this year at the 
Institution of Mining and Metallurgy. 

As I have said, in today's public contro- 
versy one of the main arguments against the 
introduction or development of nuclear power 
is that it will inevitably lead to the spread of 
nuclear weapons. I personally do not believe 
that the spread of nuclear weapons is linked 
to the spread of nuclear power, and I shall go 
even further by saying that I also do not 
believe that prohibiting nuclear power would 
in itself prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. 
It should be noted that any successful oppo- 
sition to the so-called "plutonhim economy", 
which includes the development of the 
breeder, would probably mean the abandon- 
ment of nuclear energy within a few decades 
if the fast breeder were not employed. It is also 
my view that the relation between fast breeder 
reactors and proliferation has been greatly 
exaggerated. It would be highly irrational if, 
to remove a risk that may never materialize, 
a great part of humanity were denied the 
enormous energy potential that fast breeders 
can offer, a potential that will be indispensable 
by the turn of the century to maintain the 

Eklund, Sigvard. Nuclear powar development and 
non-proliferation. In Atom vol. 258, April 1978, 
pp. 107-109. Copyright material reproduced 
with permission of copyright holder. 


present standard of living in many advanced 
countries and to raise the low standard in 
those that are developing. 

It must be recognized that, primarily 
because of the Atoms for Peace Programme, 
the cat is out of the bag and nuclear technology 
will continue to spread; the list of countries 
which in the future will possess the technical 
knowledge (but perhaps not the material) to 
make nuclear explosives will steadily grow 
longer. This process will continue quite 
independently of what happens to nuclear 
power. I do not believe that proliferation can 
be prevented by technological constraints or 
policies of denial. Allow me to refer to the 
policy of denial which has prevailed in the 
area of isotopic separation. At the Salzburg 
Conference it was striking to find that pre- 
cisely in this area, which has been protected 
by extreme secrecy, these very circumstances 
appear to have stimulated research and 
development activities in a number of coun- 
tries. As a result, we now have international 
consortia providing services based on the 
diffusion process and the same is true with 
respect to the centrifuge process. New 
separation methods were worked out in 
France, in the Federal Republic of Germany, 
in South Africa and in other countries. 

Proliferation can be prevented only by 
political consensus, translated into legal 
agreements. Such an instrument exists, namely 
the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which 
imposes obligatory restraints on its parties. 
The Treaty contains an article whereby each 
non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Treaty 
undertakes to accept Agency safeguards to 
verify the fulfilment of its obligations under 
the treaty; these obligations relate to pre- 
venting the diversion of nuclear energy from 
peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or nuclear 
explosive devices. 

Another (fourth) article deals with the right 
to develop the peaceful uses of atomic energy, 
either alone or through mutual collaboration, 
and others (fifth and sixth), with access to the 
potential benefits of any peaceful applications 
of nuclear explosions, and with negotiations 
relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race 
and to nuclear disarmament. 

The articles dealing with non-proliferation 
are explicit and impose clear-cut and detailed 
obligations. The articles on peaceful co- 
operation, peaceful nuclear explosions and 
disarmament are much more broad and 
general. The cardinal aim of the Treaty is 
clearly, as its name implies, to prevent 
proliferation; the other objectives are second- 
ary to the main aim. I stress this point as it is 
sometimes argued that the failure to implement 

the disarmament and other secondary pro- 
visions of the Treaty show that the Treaty 
itself has failed. In my view this is not correct. 
I regret, for example, that recent statements in 
connection with the INFCE study have cast 
doubt on the willingness of a major nuclear 
country to live up the obligations described 
in Article rV. It must be recognized, however, 
that what is said in Article V about peaceful 
nuclear explosive technology has raised hopes 
which are unrealistic. Peaceful nuclear ex- 
plosions can serve as a cloak for proliferation, 
and the slow progress that has been made in 
this area may even be a blessing in disguise. 
It is deeply regrettable that it has so far been 
impossible to induce the nuclear-weapon 
states to agree to major measures of nuclear 
disarmament, but the Treaty cannot be said 
to be a failure because of this. On the other 
hand, non-nuclear-weapon states party to the 
Treaty have accepted a certain infringement 
upon their sovereignty and quite naturally 
expect something in return. 

There is, however, one major nuclear arms 
control step which is closely linked with, and 
would enormously advance the objectives of, 
the Treaty, and that would be a complete ban 
on the testing of nuclear weapons and ex- 
plosives in all environments. The recent 
statement by the President of the USSR 
suggesting a moratorium on nuclear explosive 
testing generates some hope in this respect. 

One hundred and two states have now 
ratified the Treaty. They include three of the 
five nuclear- weapon states. France has not 
ratified, but has frequently said that it will 
act as if it were party to the Treaty, and is 
living up to this statement. In fact, only about 
a dozen countries having any significant 
nuclear activities now remain outside the 

As a result of bilateral or other safeguards 
agreements, all significant nuclear fuel cycle 
activities in all except four of these non- 
signatory states are at present also under 
Agency safeguards. The four exceptions are: 
India, Israel, South Africa, and Spain. The 
Agency has worked out an agreement involvng 
full-scope safeguards to be applied in any 
case where a country would accept the main 
principle of NPT but would not wish to 
become a party to the Treaty. 

Summing up, therefore, we may say that 
while a handful of important countries are 
still formally outside the framework of NPT, 
it has had considerable success in universal- 
izing the non-proliferation regime, and in 
making proliferation a reprehensible action. I 
would go even further and state, despite many 
critical voices, that NPT has been most 


successful in making contributions to the 
extremely difficult field of arms control. 

Another question is: how effective has the 
NPT been in preventing proliferation in the 
countries that have formally ratified it? The 
short answer is 100 per cent effective; no party 
has openly breached the treaty. In the judge- 
ment of the IAEA Secretariat, based on its 
safeguards operations, no party has clandes- 
tinely breached it either. 

This, of course, raises the next question as 
to how effective these safeguards are. Without 
going into details, I would like to state that 
IAEA safeguards provide a reasonable degree 
of assurance that the inspected state is carrying 
out its NPT obligations. This degree of 
assurance is constantly being enhanced as we 
gain experience in this pioneering endeavour 
of applying international controls to a 
particularly sensitive area of the industries 
and research establishments of so many 

I said at the outset that I did not believe 
that the spread of nuclear power must result 
in the spread of nuclear weapons, or that we 
could stop proliferation by closing down 
nuclear power plants. Let us look at the 
historical record. As far as we know, each of 
the countries that now have nuclear weapons 
capacity has obtained this by building a 
specialized series of piants, dedicated to the 
production of nuclear explosives. We are 
aware of no case in which proliferation has 
resulted from a nuclear power programme. 

Let me recall that there are two main 
technological paths that can be followed in 
making a nuclear explosive. The first is the 
one I have referred to, involving a dedicated 
plutonium-producing reactor and a small 
reprocessing plant. The second path to 
weapons manufacture is represented by the 
enrichment of uranium. Unlike reprocessing, 
this technology has been classified as "top 
secret" by the countries that initially developed 
it, and every precaution has been taken to 
prevent its spread. As I mentioned, the 
IAEA's Conference in Salzburg nevertheless 
showed that there are at least ten countries 
today that have mastered enrichment tech- 
nology, five of them outside the group of 
nuclear-weapon states. 

The inescapable conclusion is that nuclear 
technology will continue to spread, and that 
the number of countries that are technologi- 
cally capable of making nuclear explosives 
will steadily increase. This process will 
continue, quite independently of what happens 
to nuclear power. In other words, if my own 
country — Sweden— were to close down its 
nuclear power plants tomorrow, this would no 

more stop, say, Pakistan from consummating 
its agreement with France than it would put a 
stop to the weapons and nuclear submarine 
programmes of the Soviet Union and the 
United States. Or, alternatively, let us look at 
the aircraft industry; who is prepared to 
suggest that all aircraft should be grounded 
because they can very effectively serve 
military purposes? 

What I have said supports my strong belief 
that proliferation cannot be prevented in the 
long term by technological constraints or 
policies of denial. It can only be prevented by 
political consensus and legal agreement; in 
other words, by the Non-Proliferation Treaty 
or a separate agreement for the application of 
full-scope safeguards, through the obligatory 
restraints imposed. 

I mentioned INFCE at the beginning of my 
remarks. It is evident that safeguards aspects 
will be very much emphasized in all eight 
working groups. Some of the questions 
involved are: from the point of view of 
safeguards, is it preferable to store used fuel 
containing plutonium or to reprocess it and 
burn the plutonium in thermal reactors or 
breeders? Have alternative fuel cycles already 
been developed which involve less risk of 
proliferation? What are the safeguards aspects 
of fast breeders and related reprocessing 
activities? What are the prospects for regional 
fuel cycle centres and the possible conclusion 
of international conventions on the use of 
such centres, including provision for inter- 
national management of plutonium? A 
convention might also deal with the problem 
of physical protection during international 
transport, with respect to which no legal 
instruments now exist. 

A constructive discussion of this and other 
aspects of the NPT and measures comple- 
mentary to safeguards may be one of the most 
important results of the INFCE exercise. If 
the political will can be mobilized, and I think 
there are already very good signs of this, the 
risk of proliferation can be kept under control 
and should not prevent extensive use of 
nuclear energy in the future by means of 
thermal or fast reactors. 

After all the ingenuity displayed in the 
development of nuclear power, we would 
demonstrate unbelievable incompetence if we 
were suddenly to lose confidence in our 
abilities to cope with the problem of prolifera- 

In closing, let me say that it has been a 
great pleasure to be present this evening and 
to have had this opportunity of saying a few 
words on a subject which I feel to be of such 
great importance. 


Richard Talk 

Nuclear Weapons 

Proliferation as a 

WDrid Order Problem 

y/yfoM orJci" lies in 
the eye of the beholder. In American discussions of nuclear policy, world order 
considerations are typically invoked, without much rationale, to underscore the 
wisdom of attempts to confine the spread of nuclear weapons to the extent possi- 
ble. 1 Underlying these goals of nonprolife ration which embody a mixture of for- 
eign policy aims as well as a wider commitment to the avoidance of nuclear war, is \ 
the conviction that the fewer nuclear actors the better. Increasingly, this arithmetic 
image of proliferation is reinforced by explicit anxieties that nuclear weapons may 
fall into the hands of "irresponsible" governments (i.e. Third World) or "terror- 
ists" (i.e. nongovernmental groups).* 

These "world order concerns" have intensified recently in the light of mount- 
ing evidence that a weapons capability will soon be within easy retch of more 
and more governments and of certain nongovernmental groupings as well. One 
reliable source estimates that by 1985 as many as fifty countries could "produce 
enough plutonium each year for at least several dozen nuclear explosives."* In 
an even more immediate sense, "economic competition among nuclear suppliers 
today could soon lead to a world in which twenty or more nations are but a few 
months from a nuclear weapons force." 4 
Three developments have created this "world order" sense of concern : 
— the increased pace of civilian nuclear power deployment globally as a conse- 
quence of rising oil prices, the unreliability of oil supplies, and the reality of 
dwindling oil reserves in any case; 

LLC. Lincoln, P. Btoomfield, "Nuclear Spread and World Order/' Foreign Affairs Vol 54 
(Jury 1975), pp. 7 45-755; George H. Questcr, "What's New on Nuclear Proliferationr Aspen 
Institute for Humanistic Studies Occasional Paper, (1975); Alton Frye, "How to Ban the Bomb 
Sell It," New York Times Magazine. January 11, 1976, pp. 11-12, 76-79; Michael Nacht, 
"Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons," Report of 1975 Aspen Workshop or Arms Control, 
Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies Occasional Paper, (1975); the most comprehensive in- 
quiry along these lines is William Epstein, The Last Chance: Nuclear Proliferation and Arm$ 
Control, (New York: Free Press, 1976). 

2. George Ball, Diplomacy in a Crowded World (Boston: Atlantic/Uttle-Brown, 1976), pp. 257- 

3. "Approaches to Anns Control and Disarmament," 24th Report of the Commission to Study 
the Organization of Peace," Jury 1976, p. 31; President Ford's report to Congress on the subject 
estimates forty countries will have a weapons producing potential by 1985. See Boston 
Caste, July 30, 1975. 

4. Stephen J. Baker, "Nudear Proliferation: Monopoly or Cartelr Foreign foHcy No. 23 
1976), pp. 202-220. 

Falk, Richard. A World Order Problem. In 
International Security 1, no. 3 (Winter 
1977) pp. 79-93. Copyright 1976 by the 
President and Fellows of Harvard College. 


• — the actuality of India's nuclear explosion in May 1974 which demonstrat- 
ed vividly how any state that pursues a "civilian" program can also develop its 
own weapons capability; 

— the intensification of competition for international n jdear srles which makes 
it increasingly evident that nonproliferation goals are no longer compatible with 
the pursuit of national commercial advantage. Essentially, this reality has 
emerged from a break in the American monopoly over civilian nuclear technol- 
ogy and the willingness of French and German suppliers to provide all ele- 
ments of the nuclear fuel cycle, including enrichment and reprocessing facilities, 
to any nation that feels it can afford to buy them. The German-Brazilian deal 
(worth at least $4 billion) has proven to be the equivalent in the commercial 
realm of India's "peaceful" nuclear explosion.* 

Such developments disclose the alarming prospect that easier access to nuclear 
technology will make it relatively simple and thus more likely for a beleaguered 
government or a desperate political actor of any sort to acquire and possibly use 
nuclear weapons. This process is already evidenced by Israel's semi-overt reli- 
ance on nuclear weapons — which apparently numbered thirteen at the time of 
the 1973 October War; these nuclear weapons were reportedly assembled after 
Israeli leaders had been informed by the military commander on the Suez front 
that Egyptian forces might soon break through Israeli defense lines. 6 South 
Africa, South Korea, and Taiwan are other beleaguered states that face adverse 
regional balances of power, and whose ruling groups are obviously considering 
acquiring a nuclear weapons capability for its deterrence value and to provide a 
military option of ultimate resort. These countries provide plausible settings for 
future military conflict in which the losing side may be tempted to rely, how- 
ever self-destruc lively, on nuclear weapons. 

Thus, there are more than enough grounds for concern that the spread of nu- 
clear technology will increase the likelihood of nuclear war. But conventional 
world order thinking proceeds directly, without pause, from the dangers of 
proliferation to attempts to halt proliferation. Hence, we now notice a surge of 
writing on "safeguards" and on incentives to forego nuclear capabilities (such 
at better technology-sharing or security guaranties by nuclear powers). One 
popular line of proposal urges closer cooperation among nuclear suppliers, a line 

5. Norman Call "Nuclear Proliferation: Atoms for Brazil, Dangers fur All/' Foreign Policy 
No. 23 (Summer 1976), pp. 15S-201. Some estimates soar as high as $15 billion. 

6. This military eventuality never came to pass and, honce. fortunately never played an 
explicit role in nuclear weapons in Israeli diplomacy. For an account s.e "Special Report: 
How Israel Got the Bomb," Time. April 12, 1976, p. 39. 


erf possible anti-proliferation anion encouraged slightly by the London Confer- 
ences of Nuclear Supplier Countries held in 1975 and inspired by the tantalizing 
image of a "nuclear OPEC/' 7 Another popular proposal is that the nuclear sup- 
pliers create a multinational regional nuclear fuel center (as if a permanently 
reliable site existed) so that the nonnuclcar countries will be assured of reliable 
access to nuclear fuel without having to establish enrichment and reprocessing 
facilities on their own. Much of the current international controversy in com- 
mercial nuclear trade arises over the dispute between the United States and its 
European competitors — France and West Germany — as to whether it is reason- 
able to sell those aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle (enrichment and reprocessing 
facilities) that are most liable to diversion for military purposes. Indeed, the 
United States did use its leverage to force South Korea to cancel the purchase of 
enrichment facilities from a French concern. In other settings, notably Iran and 
Pakistan, the United States has used its roie as conventional arms supplier 
to apply leverage. It has been suggested, in fact, that the United States would 
be more reluctant to sell ultra-sophisticated weaponry to the Shah of Iran, or one 
hundred offensive A-7Corsair fighter-bombers to Pakistan, if it did not attach 
such priority to the goals of slowing, as well as halting proliferation.* A cyni- 
cal interpretation of America's sudden stress en nonproliferation in the con- 
text of commercial nuclear power emphasizes the competitive edge presently 
attained by French and German technology in sales of complete fuel cycles; in 
essence, the United States wants to catch up before the export market opens up 
beyond sales of reactors alone. 

Occasionally, this priority accorded to nonproliferation is translated into ac- 
tions that limit the discretion of existing nuclear powers. In the available litera- 
ture, some importance is attached to a comprehensive test ban that would pre- 
clude further nuclear explosions by all states and to a pledge by nuclear powers 
never to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against a nonnuclear weapons 
state that ratifies the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT).* But, in fact, at the 
NPT Review Conference in May of 1975 the nuclear powers seemed unwilling to 
take even these modest steps to diminish the discriminatory character of the 
NPT system. At most, in other words, mainstream policy analysis discusses mod- 
erating discrimination against nonnuclear weapons states. It rarely acknowledges 

7. Baker, "Nuclear Proliferation." pp. 212-220. 

I Leslie Gdfc, "Spread of Nuclear Weapon* and US. Sales," New York limn. Auguat 11, 


9. For example. Nadu, "Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons," p. 14. 


the dubious validity of a work! order system based on the inherent discrimination 
that flows from the distinction between nuclear and nonnudear states. M 

I assume here that a p'oper mode of world order analysis implies a concern 
with the interplay of explicit world order values over a period of several decades. 
The particular values emphasized here are those that have been developed by 
the World Order Models Project over the course of a transnational collaborative 
project initiated in 1969." The focus, then, of this instance of a world order 
analysis is upon "a just world order" that would embody the values of peace, 
economic well-being, social and political justice, and environmental balance. In 
addition to this emphasis on explicit values plus the inclusion in policy and 
planning contexts of a long-range p ers p ective, this per sp ec t ive assumes the 
necessity of structural change, by which is meant a coherent series of funda- 
mental reforms in the institutional arrangements and patterns of authority that 
currently characterize international relations. This alleged necessity for struc- 
tural change is closely associated with the belief that the sovereign state and 
the state system, although remaining beneficial for certain parts of the world and 
for particular normative purposes (e.g. equality of peoples; independence of Third 
World; anti-imperialism) are not able to realize world order values for the world 
as a whole. 

Adopting this world order outlook does not, however, imply a specific global 
policy position. As the studies stimulated by the World Order Models Project 
suggest, a wide range of differences in interpretation and policy prescriptions 
can arise within a common framework of world order values. 1 * In this re- 
gard, the distinguishing feature of a world order analysis is to connect nuclear 
policy with the wider search foi stability and equity in the world. Studies 
of the nuclear policy that reach quite different conclusions than my own, for 
example those of T. C Schelling, would also qualify as world order analyses." 

10. One exception in the serious liter«tuie it the Report of the Commission to Study the Organi- 
sation of Peace, already mentioned, which connects nonprolifcration goals with a revived con- 
cern with overall disarmament, including general and complete disarmament (GCD), see pp. 

11. For discussion and exposition of world order values see Richard A. Folk, A Study of Future 
rVorWs (New York: Free Press, 1975). pp. XVU-XXV1I, 7-55. 

12. Hie range of approaches it indicated by a collection of essays written by principal par- 
ticipants. Saul H. Mendlovitz, ed.. On the Creation of a fu$t World Order (New York: Free 
Press, 1f75). 

». T. C. Schelling "Who Will Have the Bomb?" International Security. Summer 1976. pp. 
77-91. See also Committee of Economic Development, Nuclear Energy and National Security. 
(New York: Committee on Economic Development, 1976) pp. 70-78. Schelling was Project 
Director of this study. 

37-189 O - 79 


Questioning the Postulates of Nonproliferation Doctrine 

One line of attack on nonproliferation doctrine arises out of the bosom of 
the nuclear industry itself. Writing in Fortune, Tom Alexander declares that "it 
seems dear that we are sacrificing too much of our foreign policy on the altar of 
nonproliferation."" Alexander indicts United States foreign policy because 
it is futile insofar as stemming proliferation is concerned anJ, worse still, self- 
defeating because it merely shifts important shares of the export market to for- 
eign competitors who are less concerned than Americans by the dangers of pro- 
liferation. Such policy also shifts reliance to more proliferation-prone technology 
(e.g. the Caoadun Deuterium-Uranium reactor, "CANDU"). True, given the logic 
of competition, on one side, and the priority of security on the other, American 
policy is implausible in international nuclear transactions. Why shouldn't French 
or German competitors strive for a larger share of a lucrative market estimated 
to be eventually worth $295 billion over the period 1971-1985?" Why 
shouldn't Brazil or South Africa acquire a nuclear option to satisfy a drive for 
first-rank status and to serve as a hedge against future contingencies? The point 
here is that whether the issue be whales or nuclear bombs, governments are pri- 
marily motivated by relatively short-term calculations of national economic 
and political self-interest. Their willingness to sacrifice any portion of that self- 
interest out of deference to world community well-being is rhetorical to the ex- 
tent that it exists at all. Specifically, on nuclear policy, the United States' appar- 
ently greater concern with nonproliferation does not express a more evolved 
world community consciousness; it is a reflection of its own geopolitical po- 
sition as a global security manager. Proliferation jeopardizes America's posi- 
tion because it becomes more difficult to control the boundaries and predict the 
outcome of regional conflicts in which there is a significant American (and/or 
Soviet) involvement. In other words, both geopolitical control and bipolar stabil- 
ity are distinctively superpower preoccupations. Hence, it is not surprising that 
the United States aspires to reconcile its geopolitical and commercial goals at the 
altar of nonproliferation. If nuclear suppliers will only agree on common ground 
rules, then the United States can continue to pursue its global geopolitical 
strategy without losing its hold on the lucrative commercial market. The Soviet 

14. Tom Alexander, "Our Cottly Lotinf Battle AfainM Nuclear Proliferation," fortune, De- 
cember 1975, p ISO 

15. Steven J Baker, "Commercial Nuclear Power and Nuclear Proliferation," Cornell Univer- 
sity Peace Studie* Program Occat ional Paper No. 5, May 1975, p. 4. 


Union, although more exclusively concerned with geopolitics than the United 
States, seems to be moving toward similar policies on nuclear issues (evident at 
*c NPT review conference), and has even participated in the London supplier 
i .inferences. A common superpower position on nonproliferation seems to be 
emerging without any explicit concert of action. 

Another factor that sets the nuclear superpowers apart from nonnuclear states 
is their insistence on maintaining "first-use options" in situations other than 
ultimate self-defense of homeland. By deploying and threatening nuclear de- 
fense of South Korea, American officialdom wants the cheap option (compared to 
Vietnam) of intimidating a nonnuclear Third World country, North Korea in 
this instance, with the specter of nuclear devastation. Of course, such diplomacy 
undermines nonproliferation to the extent it suggests that only a nuclear power 
is "secure" against one-sided blackmail. So "nonproliferation" as a foreign policy 
goal is partly a matter of preserving maximum effectiveness for nuclear weap- 
onry as an instrument of diplomacy. Of course, such a posture brings the 
inherent discrimination of the NPT system into the open, and is criticized even 
by moderate arms controllers who are generally "liberals" and "rationalists" in 
international relations. This line of criticism acknowledges that it is inconsis- 
tent with nonproliferation goals to use nuclear threats to influence the behavior 
of nonnuclear states, but it also accepts as inherent the underlying structure of 
discrimination that follows from the existence of nuclear and nonnuclear states. 

The viability of an inherently discriminatory global structure is questionable 
on both pragmatic and principled grounds. On pragmatic grounds, it is unlikely 
to work. There is no basic reason why those who want nuclear weapons should 
reject them, so long as some states insist upon their right to retain both the 
weapons themselves and broad discretion as to their use. Furthermore, so long as 
civilian nuclear power continues to expand, there can be no reliable assurance 
that a given state has not acquired a covert nuclear weapons capability. 

On principled grounds, the morality of the state system is built around the 
primacy of state interests as conceived by governmental leaders. These leaders 
may pursue self-destructive policies based on the narrow interests of a ruling 
group and may, further, be entrapped within security horizons that are far too 
short-term even from the perspective of national well-being. Nevertheless, such 
leaders are the only effective policymakers on nuclear matters, given the struc- 
ture and political realities of the state system. l * 

16. See criticisms by the Aspen Arm* Control Workshop of "loose talk" by Jsmct S<hlc*mg*r 
(when Secretary of Defense) with respect to possible use* of nuclear weapons by the United 


Furthermore, in a world system that has been victimized by imperial patterns 
of exploitation, there is little rational and even less emotional appeal in positions 
premised upon innerent discrimination between states that do and do not possess 
nuclear weapons. The identity of "responsible states" and "terroristic elements" 
may seem crystal dear to George Ball and Henry Kissinger but not at all so to the 
leaders of a wide variety of Third World nations, wherein more than two- 
thirds of humanity reside. Hence, a major conclusion of a world order analysis 
is that the goal of nonproliferation should be integrated into a credible program 
of overall denuclearization. 

Toward Military Denuclearization 

Denuclearization means the progressive elimination of nuclear weaponry. The 
goal is a nonnudear world in which nuclear weapons are neither legitimate, nor 
possessed. In the context of denuclearization, nonproliferation is obviously in- 
tegral, but secondary. From the perspective of denuclearization, the wcllsprings 
of danger are not those international actors who may acquire nuclear weap- 
ons, but rather those who presently possess these weapons, those who have con- 
tinued to deploy them, and those who improve their nuclear weapons systems — 
those states, in other words, who actually rely on nuclear weapons as a major 
policy resource." 

In world order terms the argument is again both pragmatic and principled. 
From a pragmatic perspective, denuclearization is the only way to overcome the 
inherent discrimination of the present world order system when it comes to that 
system's most vital issue — namely, the capacity of nuclear states to exert a de- 
risive impact on the security of nonnuclear states under a wide variety of circum- 
stances. The state system depends for its moral character upon a fuller rcaliza- 

Suirt A* Michael Nacht pun the views of the conference participants, "the right person to 
•peak on questions of nuclear weapon use is the President and the tone should be one of 
awe." See Nacht. "Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons," p. 15. 

17. The research and development and innovations path puisued especially by the super- 
powers has been taken in a competitive pursuit of "superiority," rather than to assure the 
stability of deterrence. That is. one cannot even argue convincingly that existing nuclear 
powers are "responsible" within the framework of stable deterrence. In the current context of 
international relations a nuclear arms race, with only a few mutually agreed upon constraints 
(arms control measures) seems every bit as "irresponsible" as the acquisition of nuclear 
weapons by additional governments. In essence, the good faith and wisdom of existing nuclear 
powers seems no more or less assured than the reliability of nonnuclear states, especially 
in the Third World The evidence suggests a high level of irresponsibility by virtually all states 
when it comes to issues of national security. 


don of the juridical promise of sovereign equality. Furthermore, such an embod.- 
ment of statist logic will provide the basis for moving beyond the state system in 
a mutually beneficial manner. Hence, the argument advanced here is that de- 
nuclearization is beneficial both if understood as reform of the state system or as 
transformation. And, in contrast, nonproliferation dissociated from denucleariz- 
ation it, at best, ambiguous from both perspectives, quite possibly making the 
system more stable but stabilizing it in an imperial fashion. 

But however beneficial, is denuclearization feasible? Can we "denuclearize" 7 
If so, to what extent? Experts who favor the approach disagree among them- 
selves, especially on the last question. Some degree of denuclearization is feas- 
ible, but depends, for any momentum, on prior far-reaching changes in the polit- 
ical climate of leading nuclear nations. At least in the decade ahead, prospects 
for denuclearization "will depend largely on domestic politics, and somewhat upon 
the interactive behavior and perceptions of the two superpowers. So long as 
denuclearization is outside of mainstream political debate in the United States 
and the Soviet Union, it has virtually no hope of getting started, at least this 
side of nuclear catastrophe. 

Of course, even within the present atmosphere certain modest steps can be 
taken. For instance, the loose talk about using nuclear weapons in Third World 
contexts or against nonnudcar weapons states can and should be repudiated. 
Perhaps the main nuclear powers could pledge never to use nuclear weapons first 
against a signatory of the NPT or against nonnuclear powers. Such pledges 
could be reinforced and given credibility if nuclear weapons were removed from 
Korea and from forward positions in Western Europe. However, it should be 
noted that such steps toward denuclearization, desirable as they would be, could 
also be viewed as nothing more than attempts to revive the prospects of nonpro- 
liferation. In this respect such forms of denuclearization are of a piece with vari- 
ous proposals designed to extend the protection of a nuclear shield to nonnuclear 
states or to work out contractual arrangements for peaceful nuclear explosions 
(PNEs). 1 * Here, nonproliferation is of the essence and modest denuclearization 
is viewed — usually implicitly — as an instrumental tactic, virtually as "a bar- 
gaining chip/' 

A comprehensive test ban (CTB) would represent a more momentous step down 
the denuclearization path because it would substantially inhibit further nuclear 
weapons innovations, provided it is imposed before accuracy, reliability, and 

II. I view the vtrk>us proposal* and incentive* to forego nuclear weapons contained in articles 
by Bloosnficld and Fr ye, mentioned earlier, in this light. 


throw-weight goals have been attained. Here again, CTB is generally viewed as 
an element of reciprocity required to make nonproliferarion credible in a world 
of self-assertive states. However, the implications of this step seem more sys- 
temic, especially if both nuclear superpowers simultaneously renounced their 
options to wage limited nuclear war and if Moscow and Washington pledged 
to limit the role of nuclear weapons to mutual deterrence of nuclear aggression. 

A comprehensive no-first-use pledge would also be a constructive step. Such a 
declaratory measure would be an important symbolic acknowledgment that nu- 
clear weapons are illegitimate in much the same sense as poison gas or bio- 
logical weapons. To be credible, a no-first-usc pledge would have to be coor- 
dinated with redeployment of nuclear weapons away from frontiers and aug- 
mented by conventional capacities, thereby clearly signaling that nuclear weap- 
ons Here intended only for retaliation Such a declaration, if solemnly made and 
implemented, would have immense value as an educative experience that would. 
in turn, foster more drastic forms of denuclearization. Ironically, in the pres- 
ent world setting, piriah states may prove more reluctant than superpowers to 
make such a declaration, as only the former face a severe security threat and lack 
the national capacity to evolve any substitute for nuclear weapons. '• But even 
if pariah states remain outside the no-first-usc orbit, the step is a pronising one 
as it touches upon the geopolitical nexus of the existing system. 

To move beyond declaratory steps (possibly accompanied by some slight tight- 
ening of the cap on the volcano, as the Vladivostok Accord is viewed) how- 
ever, requires crossing the continental divide that separates nortprolifcration 
thinking from denuclearization thinking.** Up to this point, any arms contiol 
measures will be subject to a wide range of inconsistent interpretations. As sug- 

19. It is possible to imagine security guarantees that would substitute for the residual threat 
to use nuclear weapons. Such guarantees have been proposed in the United States on behalf 
of Israel But the difficulty of guaranteeing the security of a pariah state is that such efforts 
involve freezing a $tatut quo that seems unacceptable to most of the world (eg. South Africa). 
In such circumstances, the social costs of a guarantee are high and its controversial character 
probably makes it unreliable. The pariah states sensing this unreliability would still, I sus- 
pect, be hesitant to renounce an ultimate nuclear option even if given strong guarantees of ex- 
isting borders. Similarly, in such contexts political compromises may not appear available to 
the parties, »nd armed struggle then appears the only option. Barring reconciliation, the 
parties to such conflicts will generally refuse to renounce any weapon or tactic that might 
prove useful under some set of circumstances; in any case, renunciation would not seem reli- 

20. For a world order analysis of the Vladivostok Accord see Robert )ohansen, "The Vladivostok 
Accord. A Case Study of the Impact of U.S. Foreign Policy on the Prospects for World Order Re- 
form," Princeton Center of International Studies World Order Studies Program Occasional 
Paper No. 4 (March 1976). 


gested already, unambiguous denuclearization presupposes a shift of domestic 
political values and priorities within the principal nuclear states. It is difficult 
to depict the precise character of the shift, but it would almost certainly have to 
involve a societal commitment to the pursuit of drastic global reform, based on 
the sort of world order values outlined above.* 1 Note that this shift need not 
entail a commitment to world government or to any specific or predetermined 
structure In fact, my world order preferences are based on the possibilities of 
politic*! and economic decentralization and functional centralization.** 

Such a shift of values would clear the path for genuine nuclear disarmament, 
accompanied at latter stages by conventional disarmament as well, starting with 
high- technology weaponry. Of course even genuine nuclear disarmament is 
likely to be beset in its early stages by the phenomenon of compensatory pro- 
cesses. A domestic bureaucratic consensus will require every step toward de- 
nuclearization and disarmament to be offset, perhaps even more than offset, by 
com p ensatory militarizing mechanisms (e.g. augmenting conventional weapon- 
ry quantitatively and qualitatively). In other words, even once the denucleariza- 
tion divide has been clearly crossed, there remains the disarmament divide. So 
long as policymaking circles in powerful states are dominated by the postulates 
of "national security managers/' the outlook for disarmament is bleak in- 
deed.** In time, one hopes, the value shift needed to cross the denuclearization 
divide may also generate sufficient momentum to carry the political process 
across the disarmament divide as well. But this optimistic possibility is by no 
means assured. 

Once the disarming process has begun, the postulates of nonproliferation could 
be revived in a generally more favorable global context, but still not without 
some contradictory elements. The inherent discrimination of the present system 
would be eroding, but so also would be the managerial capacity of the super- 
powers. Hence, without the accustomed military protection formerly provided by 
more powerful allies, many states might feel vulnerable or perceive themselves 
as pariahs in a denuclearizing world system. A major challenge, in other words, 
is to bolster a global sense of mutual security during the period when interna- 
tional security itself is being detached from the war system. During the denu- 
clearization process it is therefore essential to provide a positive vision of com- 
prehensive and long-term change — a preferred world. 


21. For one concept of a transition procett that aim* to achicvt total nuclear disarmament see 
Falk, A Study of Future WorMi. pp. 277-349. 

22. For elaboration we Falk, A SMy of Future YtorUt, pp. 150-276. 

23. For persuasive depiction of institutional barriers to disarmament on the national level see 
Richard J. Barnct, Xoor* of War (New York: Atheneum, 1972). 


A* nuclear disarmament proceed uiui extends to conventional weaponry, it will 
also probably appear desirable to establish a supranational police/military capa- 
bility organized at both regional and global levels. Such capabilities will help 
enforce the disarming process and also provide a transitional substitute for supra- 
national "managerial" roles in the security area. To guard against a new in- 
carnation of the war system, it would be necessary to create an appropriate con- 
stitutional framework, emphasizing checks and balances, separation of powers, 
compromises between efficiency and accountability, and most of all, a new image 
of national security that does not depend primarily on military might." Deep 
in such a disarming process lies the question of whether such a supranational 
security agency needs itself to possess nuclear weapons as a residual deterrent 
against cheating, nuclear rearmament, terrorism, and the like. This will be a 
much vexed issue of choice should we ever reach this stage of political develop- 
ment, but its resolution cannot be usefully predetermined in the present global 

Even if the supranational security agency acquires nuclear weaponry it will be 
on a conditional and provisional basis, hedged by elaborate constraints. Also, 
such possession would presumably be temporary, until the old anxiety about 
large-scale violence had receded from political consciousness, perhaps toward the 
end of the next century. At this later stage the demilitarization of the suprana- 
tional security system could then begin, possibly starting with denucleariza- 
tion. Such speculations are mean* only to be heuristic; their relevance depends 
on many factors, including the disposition of nonmilitary nuclear power and 
the fortunes of nonviolent patterns of conflict resolution. 

Given successful denuclearization, the perception and reality of inherent dis- 
crimination would rapidly disappear, along with the incentives and legitimacy 
now associated with the acquisition of i uclear weapons (except possibly in pa- 
riah situations). Nonproliferation goals would then seem apt enough, but would 
enjoy only a subordinate status. 

h Military Denuclearization Enough? The Farther Case for Nonmilitary 

In several major countries the advisability of civilian nuclear power is under 
severe attack.** Part of thii attack is an offshoot of the general Western anxi- 

24. For tome creative research and analysis along these line* »ct Adam Robert*. Nations in 
Arm$: The Theory and Practice of Territorial Dtfmtt (Hew York: Praegtr, 1976). 

25. For brkf depiction of various movement* on opposition to commercial nuclear power 


ety that nuclear weapons will come into the hands of "irresponsible govern- 
ments" or "terrorists. "*• As such, it is an extension of the nonproliferation ap- 
proach to international security. The military consequences of commercial nu- 
clear power »rt receiving great attention at the present time because of the eco- 
nomic competition among nuclear suppliers. The main effort by the United States 
is to strike a compromise between nonproliferation goals and economic /energy 
goals, centering on internationalizing those elements of the fuel cycle most sus- 
ceptible to illicit diversion." But the essence of the approach is to regard inherent 
discrimination as a permanent ingredient of international relations, and to re- 
gard the global spread of civilian nuclear power facilities as inevitable and irre- 
versible. For this reason the goals of leading American officials, as expressed 
in nonproliferation terms, are to moderate only the pace — the Aspen group agrees 
that a hopeful image of the future would be a world of ten nuclear powers by 2020 
and George Quester put forward the view that one more nuclear power each dec- 
ade is acceptable.** Of course, such objectives reflect the "realistic" effort to 
avoid the emergence of twenty to fifty nuclear powers by the year 2000 and to 
inhibit altogether the processes of illicit acquisition. 

Af is apparent, the debate on nuclear power proceeds independently of issues 
of international security, focusing primarily on questions about safety, health. 
environmental quality, political centralization, and civil liberties. ** Here we 
consider only whether the goals of denuclearization are conditional upon the 
repudiation of the civilian nuclear option. Certainly, the link should be consid- 
ered in a careful way, as the magnitude of the investment and the lead times 
needed to readjust energy systems make civilian nuclear power a world order 
issue of first magnitude — setting critical limits on value-realizing prospects, lim- 
its which are real if they arc not yet generally evident. 

But so Tar as denuclearization is concerned, the impact of a global civilian 

see Denis Hayes, "Nuclear Power: The Fifth Horseman," WorlJ Watch Paper No. 6, May 1976, 
pp. 8-10. 

26. The most effective discussion of these issues is in Theodore B. Taylor and Miwn Willrich 
Nuclear Theft: Rifkt and Safeguards (Cambridge, MA.: Ballinger, 1974). 

27. See Baker, "Nuclear Proliferation," especially p 220; see also Bloomfield. 'Nuclear Spread." 
especially pp. 744-750; as Bloomfield puts it "Our puzzJe is how to change the system 
enough to get a better political psychological base under nonproliferation without having to 
work a total transformation in man or in the ba»ic geometry of his political world " (p 749) 
This basic geometry appears to include retention of nuclear weapons, and even the continuing 
development, by existing nuclear powers; see also the list of proposed steps to undergird NPT 
system in Nacht, "Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons," pp. 11-15. 

28. Nacht, "Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons," p. 1; Quester, "What's New on Nuclear 
Proliferation?" p. 21. 

29. Richard Falk, "A Non-Nuclear Future: Rejecting the Fiustian Bargain," Tht Nation. 
March 13, 1976, pp. 501-305; see also Hayes. 


nuclear power program seems clear. First of all, the rapid spread of reactors (the 
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates a four-fold growth 
from 99 reactors in fifteen countries in 1970 to 405 reactors in twenty-eight 
countries by 1980) in the years ahead increases proliferation potential.* If 
that potential begins to be translated at a rapid pace into nuclear weapons 
capability, then the trend toward denuclearization is likely to be thwarted. To 
safeguard against this eventuality will require significant degrees of surveillance 
and intrusive inspection. Such a trend would also make any prospect of denu- 
clearization, already doubtful in a world of persisting inequality and conflict, 
highly vulnerable to disruption at an increasing number of points. 

But more important, the prospects for denuclearization presuppose that a 
broad social movement would coalesce around a series of interrelated value goals. 
These goals include some loosening of centralized political controls over na- 
tional populations. Such a possibility is virtually precluded by civilian nuclear 
power, with its high degree of energy centralization. Indeed the capital and 
security dimensions of nuclear power generate further pressures toward central- 
ization. To achieve real mobilizing power the movement against nuclear energy 
must symbolically and psychologically emphasize military and civilian dimen- 
sions. Such a movement would draw upon the vital energies of peoples de- 
voted to keeping the earth safe and secure for future generations. To repudiate 
nuclear technology would be to withdraw from a nuclear bargain that should 
never have been struck. The human species is not so conditioned to achieve the 
degrees of infallibility and societal permanence that nuclear safety presupposes, 
just as our species is not able to achieve the perfect rationality presupposed by 
deterrence-based security systems. 

Is it feasible to eliminate nuclear power from the world scene? The trends are 
in the opposite direction and their reversal will surely require momentous deci- 
sions by the United States and other advanced industrial countries. In the 
short-run of the next twu decades, while alternate energy sources and decentral- 
ized social systems are being developed and deployed, some oil-dependent, bal- 
ance-of-payment deficit countries may feel that they are locked into the nuclear 
option. Even here, however, recent research shows that rigorous conservation 
measures combined with existing solar technology can achieve decentralized 
forms of energy independence even for many societies (such as Japan) often re- 
garded as powerless to renounce nuclear energy.' 1 

30. See The Nuclear Age. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Cambridge, MA.: 
MIT Pre*. 1974) p. 45. 

31. A well argued statement of thii position is Amory B. Lovina. "Energy Strategy: The Road 
Not Taken?," foreign Affein Vol. 55 (January 1976), pp. 65-96. 


In essence, denuclearization sufficient to cross the double divide of prolifera- 
tion and militarism must embrace both military and civilian programs "Mili- 
tary and "peaceful" uses of nuclear power are too closely linked for one form 
of denuclearization to succeed for long without the other/ Also, an extensive 
civilian nuclear program, especially one based on breeder" technology, requires 
effective and continuous centralization that would thwart the success of a wider 
program of global reform such as the one envisioned here. In effect, even double 
denuclearization is not enough; the process of getting the nuclear genie back 
in the bottle must be associated with and sustained by a social movement or- 
ganized around the interrelated pursuit of peace, economic well-being, social and 
political justice, and ecological balance held together by an emergent sense of 
human community and planetary identity. The organizational dynamic is likely 
to be dialectical, weighted toward maximum feasible decentralization of societal 
functions consistent with the satisfaction of other human needs, and yet able to 
fashion those central guidance functions needed to protect the durability and 
equity required for an interdependent world. Separate state sovereignties arc not 
oriented toward the protection of long-run human or overall planetary interests. 

h Drastic Global Reform too Far Out? 

Conventional wisdom sometimes sustains what C. Wright Mills derided as 
"crackpot realism." The presumed permanence of inherent discrimination as an 
international political fact of life or the irreversibility of civilian nuclear use, are 
largely unexamined instances of what increasingly seems to be crackpot real- 
ism of the most fundamental and destructive sort. Precisely because the deficien- 
cies are so fundamental, the resistance to reconsideration is intense and emotional. 
The same applies to the thoughtful considerations of the state system's dura- 
bility. One who adopts a skeptical view or projects an alternative vision of 
the future is dismissed as "Utopian" or "romantic," a Don Quixote riding into 
battle not to tilt at windmills but to recreate their relevance. Part of main- 
stream condescension derives from a linear view of history, combined with a 
belief in technological inevitability. To adherents of such a worldvicw, propon- 
ents of decentralized security and energy systems are "reverting" to a more prim- 
itive state. My argument is premised upon another more positive image of an 
historical and cultural evolution that proceeds according to spiral forms, going 
back but at a higher level, in a different setting, acting as a rediscovery that 


builds upon the insufficiencies of what preceded and might otherwise emerge." 
In this view, the future is neither a projection of the past nor a series of repetitions, 
but is rather a sequence of ascending spirals that exhibit an interplay of recur- 
rence and innovation. 

32. For discussion of the spiral image as an alternative to linear thinking see fall Puree, The 
Mystic Spiral (New York: Avon, 1974), the same perspective underlies the work of Theodore 
RoszaJc, who specifically invokes the image of the spiral. See, especially, Roszak, The Unfin- 
ished Animal (New York: Harper and Row, 1975), pp. 152-181. 


Harold A. Feiveson, Theodore B. Taylor, 
Frank von Hippel and Robert H. Williams 




Why we should wait and why we can wait 

The debate over nuclear energy has become so 
polarized that it has stifled public consideration of 
options other than the two extremes of full speed 
ahead or a shutdown of the nuclear industry. In the 
offing, however, are some far-reaching govern- 
mental decisions that for the time being at least can 
be separated from the final decision on nuclear 

Specifically, the world is on the brink of a 
commitment to the widespread use of recycled 
plutonium as a nuclear fuel. 

To date, virtually all the plutonium which has 
been produced in the uranium fuel of current 
nuclear power plants has been left there — mixed 
with the highly radioactive fission products in the 
spent fuel. In the proposed "plutonium economy/' 
however, the plutonium would be recovered from 
the spent fuel by "reprocessing" and then 
recycled — first as fuel for today's reactors and 
subsequently as fuel for breeder reactors. 

These plutonium breeder reactors provide the 

Feiveson, Harold, Theodore B. Taylor, Frank 
von Hippel and Robert Williams. The pluto- 
nium economy: why we should wait and why 
we can wait. In Bulletin of the atomic 
scientists , vol. 32, no. 10, 1976, pp. 10- 
14. Copyright material reproduced with 
permission of copyright holder. 


ultimate rationale for the recycle of plutonium. 
Although current reactors produce some plutoni- 
um, even with plutonium recycle their principal 
fuel would be the rare naturally occurring chain- 
reacting isotope uranium-235. This isotope repre- 
sents no greater an economic energy resource than 

Plutonium breeder reactors would effectively 
exploit the energy content of the relatively abun- 
dant "fertile" isotope of uranium, uranium-238, by 
converting most of it into the chain-reacting iso- 
topes of plutonium. The resulting hundredfold in- 
crease in the energy released from natural uranium 
would make uranium a viable energy resource for 
the long term. It is for this reason that plutonium 
breeder reactors are now under development in 
several industrialized countries, including the 
United States, the Soviet Union, France, the United 
Kingdom, West Germany and Japan. 

The most imminent plutonium economy deci- 
sions relate, however, not to the breeder, but to the 
recycling of plutonium in contemporary reactors. 
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) 
hopes to make its decision on the desirability of 
such plutonium recycle in the United States in 

From an economic point of view however, depend not on the per- 
the decision on whether or not to centage reduction of the cost of 
recycle plutonium in today's reac- electricity delivered to the consum- 
ers is of no great moment to the er, but rather on whether recycled 
consumer. The cost of uranium and fuel is cheaper than fresh fuel, 
uranium enrichment will be such a A decade ago it appeared that the 
small component of the total deliv- "reprocessing" business would be 
ered cost of electricity from nuclear quite profitable. Today, in the light 
power plants in the 1980s (about 10 of experience in the United States 
percent) that plutonium recycle and abroad, and because of increas- 
could reduce this total cost by only a ingly stringent regulatory require- 
small percentage at most. The eco- ments relating to occupational haz- 
nomic incentives for the industry, ards, radioactive waste disposal, and 


the safeguarding of plutonium 
against theft, plutonium recycle ap- 
pears to be a much more marginal 
economic operation.* 

Despite the decline in its near- 
term economic attractiveness, how- 
ever, plutonium recycle in today's 
reactors still has many advocates 
who feel that it would be a major 
advance in establishing an industrial 
base for the plutonium breeder reac- 
tor. A decision by the Nuclear Regu- 
latory Commission to go ahead with 
plutonium recycle would also be of 
symbolic significance to many in the 
nuclear industry who feel that such a 
decision would firmly establish a 
long-term commitment to nuclear 
power by the United States. 

The advent of a plutonium econo- 
my holds the promise of a virtually 
inexhaustible energy resource. But it 
brings with it disturbing questions of 
risk — above all, the potential that 
the plutonium, which today is left in 
the highly radioactive spent fuel, by 
being put into commercial circula- 
tion would become vulnerable to 
diversion for nuclear weapons pur- 
poses through theft by terrorist and 
criminal groups, or through appro- 
priations by governments of nations 
not currently in the nuclear "club." 

The following article, "Security 
Implications of Alternative Fission 
Futures," discusses these risks and 
the difficulties involved in coping 
with them. It argues that there may 
be alternatives to the present course 

*A commercial reprocessing plant did 
operate in the United States at West Valley, 
New York, between 1966 and 1972. Not 
much fuel was reprocessed however, and the 
recovered plutonium was not recycled on a 
commercial basis. Plutonium recycle has 
been conducted on a pilot project basis in 
both the United States and elsewhere. Of 
course plutonium has been extracted on a 
large scale for the manufacture of nuclear 
weapons from the fuel of special reactors by 
members of the nuclear "club." 

of nuclear power development 
which are inherently less vulnerable 
to diversion. 

One of the possibilities which is 
discussed would involve the substi- 
tution of thorium-232 for most of the 
uranium-238 as the principal "fer- 
tile" isotope for breeding new 
chain-reacting isotopes in reactors. 
The bred material would then be the 
artificial isotope uranium-233, 
mixed with enough uranium-238 to 
"denature" it, that is, render it un- 
suitable for weapons purposes with- 
out further isotope enrichment. This 
cannot be done with plutonium. 
Thorium-232, like uranium-238, is 
abundant enough worldwide to sup- 
port a large fission economy indefi- 

Perhaps the most remarkable 
thing about this proliferation resist- 
ant alternative is that it has not even 
been considered seriously in the 
course of the development of fission 
power. Billions in public funds and 
the energies of thousands of talented 
people have been devoted to solving 
the technological problems encoun- 
tered during the deployment of fis- 
sion power; but little attention has 
been devoted to designing the tech- 
nology in a manner which takes into 
account the dangers of proliferation 
in a world of imperfect institutions. 
We believe that alternative fission 
futures and, perhaps, even more ur- 
gently, non-fission futures based on 
solar and possibly on fusion energy 
must be examined before the world 
proceeds with plutonium recycle. 

It has long been assumed that we 
would go ahead with plutonium re- 
cycle. Indeed this has been the un- 
derlying assumption of the fission 
research and development programs 
of the developed nations for more 
than a decade. Does this mean, 
however, that it is too late to avoid 


plutonium recycle? We think not, 
principally for two reasons: 

• The parts of the fuel cvcle 
uniquely associated with plutonium 
recycle, namely plants for reproc- 
essing and for fabrication of fuels 
containing recycled plutonium, rep- 
resent only a tiny fraction of the total 
capital investment in nuclear power. 

• There is not yet any wide-scale 
deployment of plutonium recycle 
technology in the United States or 

Once a commitment to plutonium 
recycle is made, however, much 
flexibility will be lost: the nuclear 
industry can be expected to hold 
governments to arrangements within 
which the industry has learned to 
work, and governments will fear that 
their regulatory authority would be 
eroded even further if they changed 
their minds. 

Can we afford to delay plutonium 
recycle? Must we not commit our- 
selves now to the plutonium econo- 
my if we are to be sure of adequate 
fuel supplies for our nuclear reactors 
beyond the next few decades? Such 
questions are prompted by projec- 
tions of nuclear energy growth and 
estimates of uranium resources 
made by the U.S. Energy Research 
and Development Administration 
(ERDA) and the International Atomic 
Energy Agency. 

The last article in this Bulletin 
report, "Energy Waste and Nuclear 
Power Growth," examines the 
energy-use scenarios on which ER- 
DA's projections of U.S. nuclear 
power growth are based. It is found 
that these projections are unrealisti- 
cally high because the scenarios en- 
tail energy waste on a vast scale. The 
authors conclude that if the United 
States were to use energy more effi- 
ciently and capital more economi- 
cally, nuclear power would grow 
considerably more slowly than pro- 

jected by erda. U.S. resources of 
"cheap" uranium would then last 
considerably longer than previously 
projected — certainly long enough to 
allow the nation to explore and, if 
desirable, implement alternatives to 
the plutonium economy. 

A preliminary effort is also made 
in this article to explore the uranium 
supply-demand situation on the in- 
ternational level. Here it is pointed 
out that the United States, in the role 
of a uranium exporter, could influ- 
ence the timing of the plutonium 
recycle decision in some important 
uranium-poor nations. 

Together these articles support a 
simple proposition: Large-scale 
commercial plutonium recycle 
should be discouraged worldwide 
until the alternatives have been 
carefully assessed. □ 

The role 



in nuclear 


Plutonium-239 is produced in reactor 
fuel by neutron bombardment of the 
isotope uranium-238, which makes up 
99.3 percent of natural uranium. Like the 
isotope uranium-235, which makes up 
the other 0.7 percent of natural uranium, 
plutonium-239 can sustain a fission 
chain reaction and therefore has fuel 

Uranium-235 is the primary fuel for 
today's reactors. As this fuel fissions in a 


reactor, however, a small fraction of the 
uranium-238 is converted to plutonium, 
which then also begins to fission. Some 
of the plutonium produced and some 
unfissioned uranium-235 remain in the 
spent fuel when it is withdrawn for re- 
placement. It has been proposed to ex- 
tract and recycle these isotopes into new 
fuel. Over the lifetime of the reactor the 
resulting reduction in the requirements 
for fresh uranium-235 would be perhaps 
25 percent, with roughly equal contribu- 
tions to the savings coming from the 
plutonium and the recycled uranium- 

Plutonium breeder reactors would be 
able to convert more than half of the 
uranium-238 into chain-reacting pluto- 
nium and thus make possible the release 
of about 100 times as much energy from 
a pound of uranium as is being achieved 
with current reactors. A breeder of some 
kind is required if fission is to be a major 
energy source for the indefinite future, 

because known deposits of high-grade 
uranium ore are rather small. But the 
commercial recycle of plutonium would 
expose this material to the risk of diver- 
sion for nuclear weapons purposes. The 
purpose of these articles, therefore, is to 
examine alternatives to a "plutonium 
economy" and how long a decision on a 
commitment to plutonium recycle could 
be delayed. 

While the major breeder programs 
throughout the world today are focused 
on breeding plutonium, it is also possi- 
ble to breed the artificial chain-reacting 
isotope uranium-233 from thorium-232. 
Thorium-232, like uranium-238, is 
abundant enough worldwide to support 
a large fission economy indefinitely. 
And, as explained in the article "Security 
Implications of Alternative Fission Fu- 
tures," a fission economy based primari- 
ly on thorium might be made more 
resistant to subversion for nuclear weap- 
ons purposes than one based primarily 
on uranium. 

These figures show the contrast between the current 
"once-through" fuel cycle of commercial power reactors 
in the United States (see A) and the proposed plutonium 
breeder fuel cycle (see B). 

In the once-through cycle the uranium is mined; a 
large fraction of the uranium-238 is removed, thus en- 
riching the uranium by raising the percentage of 
uranium-235 from its natural level of 0.7 percent to 
approximately 3 percent; the "enriched" uranium is used 
to make reactor fuel; the fuel is used to sustain a chain 
reaction in the reactor until most of the uranium-235 has 
been consumed; and, then the "spent" fuel is stored. 
This spent fuel contains some plutonium which has been 
produced by neutron bombardment of the uranium-238 
in the fuel. 

In the proposed plutonium-breeder economy, the pri- 
mary fuel is derived from the element uranium-238, 
which makes up 99.3 percent of natural uranium. Breed- 
er reactors would produce more chain-reacting plutoni- 
um out of this uranium-238 than they consume. Since 
uranium-235 is not the primary fuel, no enrichment plant 
is required. Natural uranium is mixed with plutonium in 
the reactor fuel. After being irradiated for some time the 
fuel is removed from the reactor core, processed chemi- 
cally, and the uranium and plutonium are recycled into 
fresh fuel. 

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1973-C - 

Remarks by 

D.A.V. Fischer* 

Assistant Director Ceneral 
for External Relations 

Inter-national Ataxic Energy Agency 

at the 

AIF International Conference on Regulating Euclear Energy 

P anel en Phcplorinr the Relationships of rbmort Policy and :ior.-?rolif cr-. 

•18 Kay 1978 

Export Folicy and yon-Proliferation 

The developing country perception 

Firstly, let us define which countries we classify as 
developing and what the size of their nuclear prograsane is. 
According to IAEA's information not more than a dozen developing 
countries are operating, "building or have firm plans for nuclear 
power programmes. They are: Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, India, 
Iran, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Phillipines, Taiwan 
and Yugoslavia/ This list includes all plants known to be 
planned up to 1985» 

The list deserves some comment. Firstly: 

(a) There are a few additional developing countries 
that are mentioned from time to time as possible nuclear 
energy users, namely Creece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Chile 
and Thailand. Moreover, Singapore, Kuwait and Kong Kong 
have at one time or another shovel an interest. These 

* Fischer, D. A. V., Remarks at the Atomic industrial Forum's 

International Conference on Regulating Nuclear Energy. May 

18, 1978. 

** This list excludes certain Eastern European countries which 

might be considered borderline — e.g. Bulgaria and Rumania. 


possibilities have been flickering for many years 
tut nothing concrete has emerged. 

(b) The dozen countries with programmes or plants 
under construction are just about the same as those 
that were seriously interested in nuclear power ten 
to fifteen years ago* The only newcomers are Cuba 
and, interestingly enough, Iran, 

(c) In the wake of the 1973 oil crisis and in the 
hope that elusive creature, the "sna.ll or medium 
sized nuclear power plant" would become reality, the 
IAEA staff made some optimistic projections in 1974* 
In the event of a 400 tftf plant becoming available it 
was projected that Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Chile 
and Thailand would definitely be in the running instead 
of in the uncertain category. If a 200 MW plant were 
available twenty-seven developing countries would be 
interested in nuclear power instead of the tt/elve today 
and if the threshold were to drop to 100 HH the list 
would increase to nearly fifty countries. IT one of these 
things have happened however and we seem to be back with 
the same dozen I first mentioned. If Paccock and Wilcox 
can really produce their 400 MVJ the number might rise 

to eighteen in the 90' s. The list would also obviously 
be lengthened if the CASS project - the 125 HW barge 


- 3 - 

floating plant were to become a reality. 

(d) The total electrical capacity of plant operating 
under construction or planned in the dozen countries 
is roughly 18,000 MW in 1935; about the same as that 
of the Federal Republic of Germany. 

(e) The list is heavily dominated by two countries; 
Brazil vrith its intention of constructing eight large 
plants, and Iran which has two under construction has 
ordered two more and has six or eight more in the pipeline. 
Considerably after Brazil and Iran ccme South Korea 

and Taiwan. The plans of the others trail some distance 

Yflien we talk about the developing countries* perception of 
the impact of export policies vre are, therefore, talking about the 
perceptions of a relatively small group of very dishemogeneous 

nevertheless, this group is politically most influential 
in the third world. We have seen that in the event of confrontation 
it is able to rally the votes of nearly one hundred smaller or 
poorer developing countries for most of v:hich nuclear power is a 
dim and distant prospect. 

This rallying process is already taking place. It is more 
marked in the General Assembly with its membership of 149 States 



which -thus is more amenable to developing coraxtries 1 influence 

■than is the smaller General Conference of the IAZA. Y, T e also 
have reports that attempts will he made to line up the so called 
"non-aligned" countries on the export policy issue. 

Khat is this issue? Essentially, the developing countries 
as a group are hostile towards every restriction on the export 
of nuclear technology. They regard such restrictions as contrary 
to the v;hole concept of North/South cooperation which is predicated 
on the transfer of advanced technology. In particular, they 
regard it as contrary to the coramitraent that the industrial 
countries, and especially the 2. r uclear V. T eapon States, undertook 
in Article IV of the HFT. 

It is already obvious when the lines are drawn that the 
developing countries tend to place their loyalty t.o the so-called 
"group of seventy-seven"- that is the developing country caucus - 
well ahove the common interests that many of them share as parties 
to the Non-Prolif oration Treaty. In other words, countries like 
Mexico and Yugoslavia which are KPT parties will side with non-KPT 
countries such as Pakistan or Argentina in opposing restrictions 
on the transfer of nuclear technology even if such restrictions 
purport to discriminate in favour of KPT countries. Thus, the 
developing countries tend to draw no distinction between 
objectionableness, in their view, of the restraints of the London 
Club which arc fecussed essentially on exports to non-KPT countries 


end the restraints of the new U5 Non-Proliferation Act* As 

far a:? Belgrade, Buenos Aires are concerned London and '.iashingtcn 

are tarred with the same "brush. 

What can the developing countries achieve in this situation? 
It is already clear that under the leadership of Yugoslavia, 
Pakistan and Nigeria - two NPT and one non-HPT country - there 
Kill "be a major effort to convene another international conference 
on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. A conference similar 
to that which was held in Geneva in 1^53 and which would be 
political in character. It would seek to reaffirm Article IV 
of the HPT and codify, expand and articulate - perhaps in a 
convention or other legal instrument - the "inalienable right" 
of every country to advanced nuclear technology. Whether this 
effort is successful or not, it is hound to result in a vast amount 
of discussion and much time of senior people in conferences. 

More serious in the long term would he implications of 
making nuclear policy a standing issue of ITorth/South confrontation. 
There is the grave risk that this would further the erosion which 
has already taken place of the nuclear consensus that was achieved 
with so much effort over so many years. This is the consensus 
that there must he a steady, reliable functioning of nuclear supply 
mechanisms on the one hand, and that nuclear plant and material 
must he used entirely for peaceful purposes and under intema-tional 
safeguards on the other. 


- 6 - 

This concensus reflected in Article III and IV of the 2*TT is 
still the corner-stone of international nuclear cooperation 
ecd if it should "break loose the consequences could be serious 

A concomitant risk of such an event is that the IAEA's 
function as an effective instrument for the application of 
safeguards could "be jeopardized and the cutting edge of safeguards 
night he "blunted. Our Board of Covemors is used to working 
by consensus and without confrontation. Should this change, the 
effects on the Agency could be serious. 

In my personal view the London Club has played a valuable 

role in codifying the implications of Article III. 2 of NFP and 

reducing the risk that commercial competition would take the form 

of cutting the corners of safeguards. It would have played an 

even more useful role if it could have reached agreement that 

there should be exports/to countries that have agreed to accept 

safeguards on all their nuclear activities. The im?,ge of the 

London Club was unavoidably tarnished by the fact that it is a 

suppliers' group. The time is now ripe to turn away from the 

policy of restraint and to return to a policy of consensus, to 

invest our efforts in constructive solutions such as regional 

fuel cycle centres, arrangements for plutonium and spent fuel 

management and perhaps to seek an international consensus on 

certain basic rules such as the need for universal safeguards. 

It is easier to lay down the law than to negotiate consensus but 

the results of the latter are likely to be more lasting. 



a perspective of 

the risks, benefits 

and options 

Brian Flowers 
This is a view from across the 
ocean on one of the most important 
issues of the day — nuclear power. 
Not that there is any lack of discus- 
sion on this subject in the United 
States, which has done more than 
any other country to develop nucle- 
ar power and to study its implica- 
tions, both for the United States and 
for the world at large, but it may be 
that I can contribute a little to the 
U.S. debate by presenting my view 
of what really is a global issue. 

In the early years after World War 
II the knowledge and materials re- 
quired to make nuclear weapons 
were held by few and were shroud- 
ed in secrecy. The inevitable spread 
of peaceful nuclear technology, 

however (primarily for the genera- 
tion of electricity), has made this 
knowledge and these materials 
widely available. This has made it 
possible for other countries to obtain 
weapons if they wish, and has in- 
creased the danger that they may 
one day be used again. 

Thus this problem, which we call 
nuclear proliferation, is a global 
issue because the consequences 
may affect all of us. It is important 
therefore that we try to converge on 
global solutions, but yet ones that do 
not ignore the needs of individual 

The nuclear industry has not been 
blind to the dangers of proliferation. 
It helped to bring about the Non- 
Proliferation Treaty, whereby, in re- 
turn for an agreement to forego nu- 
clear weapons, non-nuclear nations 
would be encouraged to benefit 
from a civilian program under ade- 
quate international safeguards. 

The new price structure of fossil 
fuels, however, triggered by the 
Arab oil embargo in 1973, served as 
a sharp reminder to the industrial- 
ized countries of their vulnerability 
with regard to energy resources. 

It made the continued spread of 
nuclear power seem inevitable, as 
well as the dangers of proliferation. 
Ij^also led us to question whether our 
institutions and available technolo- 
gy could control such risks as those 
associated with the reprocessing of 
nuclear fuel, the disposal of radioac- 
tive wastes, the long-term effects of 

Flowers, Brian. Nuclear power: a perspective 
of risks, benefits, and options. In Bulletin 
of the atomic scientists , March 1978, p. 21- 
26, 54-59. Copyright material reproduced 
with permission of the copyright, holder. 


radioactivity upon the natural world, 
and the plutonium extracted from 
spent nuclear fuel. These concerns 
become live issues about 10 years 
after the ordering of a nuclear power 
station. It is therefore easy to under- 
stand why it is only now that these 
major issues of reprocessing and 
proliferation should be commanding 
so much attention. The situation is 
exacerbated by the fact that the 
prospects oi plutonium-fueled fast 
breeder reactors appear realizable in 
several countries after many years of 
immensely difficult technological 

Effort has always been devoted to 
seeking adequate technical and in- 
stitutional answers to the problems I 
have mentioned. However, there are 
also underlying issues which are po- 
litical, social and ethical in charac- 
ter. It is the discussion of these issues 
in the ever-widening public debate 
that has forced the nuclear industry 
to intensify its efforts to solve the 
technical problems. The industry is 
seeking "a technological fix." It is 
trying to develop a non-proliferation 
technology, and there is little doubt 
that it will succeed up to a point. 
The question is whether the industry 
will be successful enough in time to 
permit the next stages of develop- 
ment of nuclear power to take place 
as planned. 

In this endeavor the present na- 
ture oi the public debate is not as 
useful as it might be. Environmental- 
ists tend to see those in the nuclear 
industry as being so committed to 
the furtherance of their technology 
as to be willfully blind to its dangers. 
Those within the industry tend to see 
environmentalists as people op- 
posed to all technology or as people 
who are prepared to denigrate their 
work on the basis oi nebulous tears 
of future catastrophes. No doubt due 

to the wartime secrecy from which 
the industry has still not fully 
emerged the debate has often been 
ill-informed. And in some countries 
where openness in government and 
public access to official information 
are not yet the custom, we have seen 
the exchanges become bad- 
tempered and even violent. This is 
not the way a reconciliation will be 
reached, and that is why so many of 
us must be prepared to devote some 
years to trying unemotionally to 
resolve an increasingly hysterical 

The Only Option 

The case for nuclear power rests 
upon the assumption that electricity 
demand will continue to rise for the 
foreseeable future at an average of a 
few percent per annum throughout 
the world. After a relatively short 
bonanza, gas and oil will make de- 
creasing contributions and what re- 
mains will increasingly be set aside 
as feed-stock for the chemical indus- 
try. Alternative sources will take a 
long time to develop on any sub- 
stantial scale, as will any significant 
expansion of coal mining. In any 
case, there are environmental and 
other objections to the alternatives, 
especially in highly populated coun- 
tries. Energy conservation requires 
massive investment in new industri- 
al processes and in urban technolo- 
gy, and can at best reduce some- 
what the estimated growth rate. 
Nuclear power is the only energy 
source we can rely upon at present 
with any certainty for massive con- 
tributions to our energy needs up to 
the end of the century, and if neces- 
sary beyond. 

This, oi course, is to state the 
problem as if the energy crisis were 
to remain with us forever. Given the 
geothermal energy in the hot interior 
of the Earth, the vast flux of solar 


energy in which we are immersed, 
and possibly nuclear fusion, it is 
presumptuous to assert that mankind 
faces a shortage oi energy in the 
long term. It may cost more than we 
are accustomed to paying; it will 
take time to develop new sources 
and during that time economies will 
have to adjust again to new price 
structures. If nuclear power is inevi- 
table until the end of the century it is 
because tor the last 2r> years we 
have not invested in any alterna- 

It should therefore be a deliberate 
act of policy to ensure that we do 
have genuine alternatives by the 
year 2000. If we do then decide 
upon the further expansion of the 
nuclear option, we should do so not 
because it is the only option but 
because it is the best option. 

In the meantime nuclear power 
can make a substantial contribution 
to world energy needs by means of 
natural or lightly enriched uranium, 
burned in the present types of ther- 
mal reactors, such as the light water 
reactors favored by many in the 
Western world. We must therefore 
ask whether these thermal reactors 
are sufficiently safe to be used on the 
large scale that is contemplated. 
Preferably, they should be safe 
enough so they can eventually be 
built near large conurbations, for in 
that case they can be used to pro- 
vide heat as well as electricity, for 
domestic heating schemes and for 
industrial purposes. Co-generation 
can double the utilization of fuel 
resources, whether fossil or nuclear, 
and so make a major contribution to 
energy conservation. 

Nuclear reactors contain vast 
amounts of radioactivity, most asso- 
ciated with the accumulated fission 
products in the fuel, and elaborate 
precautions are therefore taken to 

prevent any accidental release. The 
nuclear industry is exceptionally 
conscious of industrial risks. And 
there has not yet been an accident 
with a commercial installation suffi- 
cient to have constituted an opera- 
tional or environmental catastrophe, 
though there have been some "near 
misses." However, 200 reactor- 
years of successful operation of 
commercial light water reactors in 
the United States is of limited value 
in estimating what the accident rate 
might be by the year 2000 if such 
plants have accumulated 5,000 
reactor-years by then. (Assuming a 
Poissorf distribution, it gives 90 per- 
cent confidence that the failure rate 
is less than one in 80 reactor-years.) 

Moreover, since it is the design- 
er's intention that the probability of 
any accident, but especially cata- 
stroph ic ones, should be extreme ly 
small, the demonstration of such 
low levels of probability means that 
one has to demonstrate a negative 
hypothesis. It thus becomes a fruitful 
area for academic disputation be- 
tween -experts which some of the 
opponents of nuclear power, with 
evident delight, have summarized in 
the unhelpful aphorism: "Human 
estimates of human fallibility are 
themselves fallible!" 

The problem is complicated by 
the nature of public reaction to acci- 
dent statistics. Many people would 
accept a situation resulting, say, 
from road accidents in which a 
thousand people lose their lives 
every year; and yet would reject 
another situation in which a million 
people might be killed in a single 
accident once in a thousand years. 
Yet the average annual rate is the 
same. Others would regard a thou- 
sand years as so remote as to be 
discounted, though it might happen 
tomorrow. Either way our response 
is hardly rational. 


Absolute safety is illusory, and the 
assurance the public would like to 
receive, namely, "this reactor is 
completely safe and presents no 
danger to the public," can never be 
given. What can be said is that "this 
reactor is so designed that the 
chance of an accident that would 
cause serious harm is less than, say, 
one in a million per year." Unfortu- 
nately, and paradoxically, a state- 
ment of this kind may increase rath- 
er than allay anxieties. 

I shall not attempt to describe the 
methods which are used to make 
assessments of the probabilities of 
reactor accidents and the scale of 
their consequences in terms of life 
and property. Reactors are designed 
in such a way that there is a succes- 
sion of barriers to the propagation of 
any malfunction however trivial, 
and are engineered to prevent or 
limit adverse consequences in the 
event of a malfunction. Reactor de- 
sign and construction requires inde- 
pendent review and licensing at 
many stages as well as the licensing 
of operating personnel. There are 
also secondary safety measures, in- 
cluding appropriate siting intended 
to mitigate the effects of large-scale 
accidents in the unlikely event that 
they occur. The rigorous risk analy- 
sis applied to reactor safety is part of 
the design process, and it is itself a 
learning process which takes into 
account such basic data as the ob- 
served failure rates of individual 

As a result I believe it is fair to say 
of the commercial reactors at pres- 
ent operating in the United States 
and the United Kingdom that, mega- 
watt for megawatt, the nuclear in- 
dustry is much safer than the coal 
industry. Although improbable, it is 
true that a large fraction of the radio- 
active content could be released; 

but even so, the most likely outcome 
would be a few hundred deaths from 
various forms of cancer and serious 
evacuation and clean-up problems 
for perhaps 30 miles downwind, 
with an outside chance that it might 
be ten times worse. Disastrous, cer- 
tainly, but not out of proportion with 
the risks an industrial nation faces 
from many of its other activities or 
even from natural causes. Thus, a 
nuclear program should not be re- 
garded as unacceptable as far as the 
safety of its thermal reactors is con- 
cerned, especially as safety in design 
is continually improving. 

The energy contribution of ther- 
mal reactors burning natural or 
lightly enriched uranium, though 
substantial, will be limited by the 
amount of uranium that can eco- 
nomically be extracted from the 
Earth's crust. Uranium mining is a 
relatively new industry and until re- 
cently there have been few incen- 
tives for systematic exploration and 
development. Moreover, what can 
be considered economic extraction 
depends upon the price of compet- 
ing fossil fuels. If the nuclear indus- 
try's forecasts a few years ago of 
electricity demand were correct, 
and if the estimates of economic 
extraction of uranium were also cor- 
rect, then by the year 2000 available 
uranium resources might suffice for 
little more than a decade. This is a 
matter about which opinions and 
estimates differ. But since recent 
projections of the growth of nuclear 
power have been sharply reduced, 
and the estimates of uranium re- 
sources are apt to increase, we 
should be able to manage for a 
while, especially if it is realized that 
capital intensive high technology is 
not well-suited to marly of the devel- 
oping countries. 


For countries without uranium de- 
posits, like the United Kingdom, 
however, the contribution from ther- 
mal reactors will be limited by the 
extent to which those countries can 
rely upon other countries, however 
friendly, to supply them with urani- 
um. Undoubtedly, an independent 
energy supply is regarded as a na- 
tional asset, politically as well as 
economically. This was the reaction 
of the United States to the oil embar- 
go of 1 973, and it was the very sharp 
reaction of France, Germany and 
japan to President Carter's nuclear 
initiative, which appeared to endan- 
ger their nuclear fuel supplies. It 
would be foolish to assert that over 
the next 30 years the interests of 
these countries will always coincide 
with those of the uranium suppliers. 

Fast Breeder Reactors 

A thermal reactor burns less than 
1 percent of the uranium (the fissile 
isotope uranium-235) plus whatever 
little plutonium can be bred from the 
more abundant uranium-238. A fast 
breeder reactor (FBR), on the other 
hand, is designed to breed plutoni- 
um efficiently and, in principle, to 
burn all the uranium. By adopting 
fast breeders we could increase the 
energy availability of uranium by a 
factor of up to 50, not immediately, 
to be sure, but progressively from 
about the year 2000 onwards. The 
United Kingdom already possesses a 
stock of depleted uranium from its 
weapons program, and if it were 
burned in fast reactors it would be 
comparable with our coal 
reserves — enough to last a century 
or two. Clearly, therefore, breeder 
reactors can be regarded as an im- 
portant contribution to energy re- 
source conservation. Moreover, 
there are signs that electricity from 
fast breeder reactors would be eco- 

nomically competitive with electric- 
ity from fossil fuels. 

But can it be done? 

There is little doubt that it can be 
done. The British prototype fast re- 
actor at Dounreay, for example, 
after some initial difficulties not as- 
sociated with the nuclear compo- 
nents, is reliably generating close to 
its design figure of 250-megawatts 
(electrical) with surprisingly little 
fuss and bother. In terms of heat 
output it is ten times the size of the 
experimental Dounreay Fast Reactor 
that operated so successfully for 18 
years. This is a big scaling step; the 
remaining one to full commercial 
size is perhaps a factor of five and it 
can probably be achieved conserva- 

Can it be done safely?The nuclear 
industry would say that this is the 
same question, for if it cannot be 
done safely it will not be done at all. 

There are some respects in which 
a fast reactor is safer than some 
kinds of thermal reactors; it is ex- 
tremely stable in normal operation. 
The fast breeder reactor presently 
contemplated is cooled by low pres- 
sure liquid sodium which can ab- 
sorb large amounts of heat without 
boiling. This is in contrast, for exam- 
ple, to the high pressure water cool- 
ant of light water reactors. On the 
other hand, fast neutron fluxes are 
about 1,000 times higher in fast 
reactors and this may be enough to 
generate mechanical failures absent 
from thermal reactors. Every reactor 
type has its own characteristic spec- 
trum of conceivable malfunctions. 

With any reactor employing a liq- 
uid coolant there is the risk that if, 
due to some malfunction, a substan- 
tial amount of fuel should melt, it 
could react with the coolant causing 
this to evaporate explosively and the 
core to be disrupted. It is highly 
improbable, but possible; and it is 


iparticularly serious for the fast 
jbreeder reactor because of the con- 
sequent risk, peculiar to this system, 
that the core somehow reassembles 
in a more reactive state than before. 
The result would be a very ineffi- 
cient nuclear explosion, which if it 
also succeeded in breaching the re- 
actor containment could cause 
damage one or two orders of magni- 
tude more extensive than is envis- 
aged for thermal reactors undergo- 
ing similarly improbable but disrup- 
tive malfunctions. 

Operating prototypes like the 
Dounreay PFR, together with on- 
going research, will provide a great 
deal of understanding about failure 
mechanisms in fast reactors in the 
next four or five years. The key to 
safety lies in the design process it- 
self, so that the design and construc- 
tion of a commercial scale reactor at 
the appropriate time would itself be 
an important step in assessing 
whether the required level of safety 
can be achieved in practice. But it is 
also clear that the present state of 
knowledge about the safety of fast 
breeder reactors does not allow one 
to rely upon a continuing FBR pro- 
gram. For this reason alone it would 
be wise to provide for alternatives. 

It is important, however, that the 
feasibility of a fast breeder program 
should not be seen merely in terms 
of the safety of the reactor. Fast 
reactor fuel is a mixture of plutoni- 
um and uranium oxides. As the plu- 
tonium is burned by fission, fresh 
plutonium accumulates by transmu- 
tation of the uranium. Slightly more 
plutonium is bred than burned, so 
that in 20 years or so there is enough 
excess to fuel a second fast reactor. 
In practice, one would not wait that 
long, but would rely upon plutoni- 
um extracted from thermal reactors 
to provide most of the initial fuel 
load. . 

It would be quite a long time, say 
50 years, before one could do with- 
out thermal reactors altogether, as- 
suming that electricity consumption 
continued to increase at the same 
historic rate. Correspondingly, it 
would be some decades before sub- 
stantial savings in uranium resulted. 
Although in the long run fast breeder 
reactors offer the prospect of near 
independence from uranium sup- 
plies, in the shorter term a large FBR 
program necessitates a big thermal 
reactor program and hence a big 
uranium demand. It is not so easy to 
escape the clutches of the uranium 

Plutonium Recycle 

The plutonium has to be obtained 
by separating it chemically from ir- 
radiated fuel from both fast and ther- 
mal reactors, after which it is fabri- 
cated into fuel elements. Chemical 
reprocessing plants are therefore re- 
quired, and it is likely that the fuel 
will be reprocessed half-a-dozen 
times in the course of its life in the 
fast reactor. During reprocessing the 
highly radioactive wastes which are 
the residues of the nuclear process 
are removed and are suitably treat- 
ed, and the depleted uranium is 
recovered to be recycled if desired. 

A continuing fast reactor program 
cannot therefore be operated unless 
there are also reprocessing plants 
available. This differs from a thermal 
reactor program where the doubtful 
economics of recycling mean that 
no reprocessing plant is required, or 
where at most it is provided as an 
element of waste management and 
as a contribution toward uranium 

Until recently it had always been 
assumed that the uranium and plu- 
tonium contained in spent fuel from 
thermal reactors would be recov- 
ered and recycled, at least until fast 


breeders came along. In this way 
uranium requirements might be re- 
duced by about a quarter. This is a 
useful if unspectacular gain; but one 
which requires a reprocessing plant. 
The estimated cost of these plants 
has recently grown several-fold, 
partly due to the safety standards 
which are nowadays being imposed 
on all nuclear installations. Recy- 
cling in thermal reactors might re- 
duce the cost of electricity in the 
United States by less than 1 percent. 
Consequently, plutonium recycling 
in thermal reactors is no longer re- 
ceiving the attention it was once 
thought to deserve. 

The question arises whether re- 
processing plants can be built and if 
so whether they will be safe. There is 
no doubt that plants were built and 
operated safely to process the metal- 
lic fuels used in early nuclear pro- 
grams. That is what Windscale has 
done successfully for 25 years in the 
United Kingdom. Recent minor mis- 
haps indicate that it is high time the 
aging plant was refurbished. 

The controversy centers on 
whether plants should be built to 
process the oxide fuel used in the 
present generation of thermal 
reactors — to provide plutonium for a 
future generation of fast reactors and 
to process oxide fuel from other 
countries (potentially a very lucra- 
tive export business) — and on 
whether the resulting large quanti- 
ties of radioactive wastes can be 
safely handled. 

In spite of several attempts, no 
full-scale oxide reprocessing plant is 
operational anywhere in the world 
at present. The experience in the 
United States has been discourag- 
ing, both technically and economi- 
cally. And in the United Kingdom 
the pilot plant at Windscale ran into 
difficulties four years ago owing to a 
chemical explosion. Moreover, 

there are renewed queries about the 
radioactivity levels of the effluents 
from the Windscale plant that are 
disposed of in the Irish Sea. Never- 
theless, I see no reason to suppose 
that Windscale could not build the 
plant competently and safely— nor 
that the regulatory agencies would 
permit it to operate unless they were 
satisfied that workers and the public 
would be adequately safeguarded 
—nor even that higher effluent stand- 
ards could not eventually be met, if 
that were later found to be desirable. 

Whether the plant is necessary 
and desirable on economic and 
other grounds is an entirely different 
matter. Certainly, whatever risks 
there may be in handling nuclear 
materials— whether to workers or to 
the public, whether in normal ope- 
ration, improbable malfunction, or 
deliberate misuse— those risks will 
obviously be compounded if fuel is 
reprocessed and recycled. There ap- 
pears to be a growing body of opin- 
ion in the United States that since 
oxide fuel can be stored unproc- 
essed for 20 years or so it should not 
be reprocessed but merely stored; 
and that countries should be seeking 
adequate storage capacity at home 
or abroad instead of exporting their 
fuel for reprocessing. The belief that 
recycling in thermal reactors was 
imminent resulted in little storage 
capacity for spent fuel on reactor 
sites in some countries. 

Fven if storage were to become an 
interim global solution, we would 
have to keep the reprocessing option 
too, unless we wish deliberately to 
abandon the fast breeder option. 
And in order to keep the reprocess- 
ing option somebody has to show 
that a full-scale oxide reprocessing 
p+ant can be built and operated to 
acceptable standards of safety. It is 
quite a different question whether, 
having built it, we should use it to 


encourage an international traffic in 
nuclear materials. But if the latter is 
the only way the job can be done 
economically, then the question be- 
comes an exceedingly vexed one, as 
it has in the United Kingdom where 
it is intended that the Japanese will 
contribute to the capital cost of the 

Radioactive Wastes 

There is also the question of the 
radioactive wastes which arise in 
reprocessing and elsewhere in the 
nuclear fuel cycle. The difficulty is 
with the highly radioactive liquors 
which contain almost all of the fis- 
sion products together with small 
quantities of plutonium and other 
heavy elements, which result from 
the treatment of irradiated fuel in the 
reprocessing plant. These liquors are 
not large in terms of volume, but 
their radioactive contents, and 
therefore their aggregate toxicity, are 
immense. They are usually kept in 
carefully designed, heavily protect- 
ed, water-cooled tanks where, if 
nothing else were done about them, 
they would have to remain under 
human surveillance for hundreds or 
thousands of years. Indeed, if sub- 
stantial residues of plutonium were 
included, the period might be hun- 
dreds of thousands of years! 

Some people are fond of talking 
about econuts, but clearly it is only a 
technocrank who would seriously 
consider storage of these toxic liq- 
uids under surveillance for such pe- 
riods of time. Moreover, there has 
been a history of leakage from some 
of the storage tanks, especially in the 
United States. Methods are therefore 
being devised to convert the active 
liquor into a stable solid such as 
glass in which the activity is embed- 
ded, so that it can more readily be 
handled; and then to find ways of 
storing or permanently disposing of 

the glass blocks. A vigorous research 
and development program on the 
vitrification process has been and is 
being carried forward; glass has 
been fabricated which has been 
shown to remain stable under im- 
mense doses of radiation. 

On storage and disposal of high- 
level wastes there has been a great- 
deal of talk, a fair measure of 
thoughtful analysis, but little action. 
In the United Kingdom one way of 
disposing of the vitrified wastes 
would be to bury them deep below 
the surface of the Earth in a geologi- 
cally stable granite formation, but 
not a single test hole has yet been 
drilled. This amazing lack of activity 
may once have been due to the 
technocranks; but it is now almost 
entirely the fault of econuts who 
object to any part of the United 
Kingdom becoming a nuclear trash- 
can, especially for foreign waste. 
Their tactics are very misguided: 
these facilities are needed not only 
for a nuclear program in the future, 
but to deal with the accumulated 
wastes of the past including those 
which have arisen in the weapons 

There may also be merit in con- 
sidering engineered retrievable stor- 
age for solidified waste rather than 
immediate disposal. If reprocessing 
were to be abandoned for the time 
being it is almost certain that one 
would wish to store spent fuel in this 
manner, after its initial very high 
radioactivity had died away. In that 
case, however, it would be prefera- 
ble that sites chosen for storage 
could be readily converted to per- 
manent disposal if that were later 
desired. Assuming that storage is 
deep underground in a geologically 
stable formation free from water 
movements, it would then be neces- 
sary to seal off the bore hole in a 
permanently satisfactory manner. 


Methods for doing this have not yet 
been established. 

Another possibility for permanent 
disposal is to put the solidified waste 
in deep holes drilled into stable 
areas beneath the deep ocean. For in 
the event of a geological leak diffu- 
sion in the ocean would act as a 
further safeguard. However, one 
must remember that a deep disposal 
site will remain open for some dec- 
ades, assuming it is large enough to 
be economic. It is therefore not only 
the long-term integrity of the site 
under sealed conditions that is im- 
portant, but also that it should be 
free from flooding by surface water 
during the open period. 

Although one may feel optimistic, 
as I do, that a solution will eventual- 
ly be found for the disposal of nucle- 
ar wastes, expert opinion is that it 
will take many years of painstaking 
research. The systematic methods of 
safety assessment as applied to reac- 
tors and other plants have yet to be 
adapted to geological formations 
over immense periods of time. To 
what extent, then, is it right to go 
on accumulating wastes in the hope 
that everything will turn out all right? 
Even more, to what extent is it right 
to develop a massive reliance upon 
nuclear power when the serious 
work has not even begun? 

The same engineers, who quite 
rightly insist that you cannot estab- 
lish the safety of a reactor without 
actually building it, are apparently 
willing to contemplate the disposal 
of wastes for centuries to come on 
the basis of nothing more th an anal- 
ogy and rudimentary calculations. 
Until we know at least in principle 
how to dispose of nuclear wastes, 
there is bound to be serious public 
disquiet about the large-scale devel- 
opment of nuclear power. 

Although the unsolved problems 
associated with the safety of reactors 

and of reprocessing plants, and with 
handling, storage and disposal of 
nuclear wastes are by no means 
negligible, the issue causing the 
greatest concern for the future is that 
the fast breeder reactor program (as 
at present envisaged) is based upon 
the generation, processing, con- 
sumption and recycling of plutoni- 
um. This substance, which has a 
particularly unpleasant collection of 
characteristics, is extremely toxic 
when inhaled in microscopic quan- 
tities and extremely explosive when 
assembled a few kilograms at a time. 
for comparison, a commercial fast 
reactor wpuld contain about five 
tons, although not of course in a 
form which could be either directly 
inhaled or exploded. 

One is clearly concerned with the 
prospect that such material might be 
lost or misapplied at any point in the 
fuel cycle. The concern is com- 
pounded when it is realized that the 
problem is really an international 
one, especially if a traffic of nuclear 
materials is to be encouraged for 
economic reasons. One has the pos- 
sibility of the proliferation of nuclear 
weapon capability, and one has the 
possibility of illicit diversion of ma- 
terials into malevolent hands. It is 
difficult to believe that premature 
development of an international 
traffic can make these problems less 
dangerous. It is not enough that we 
trust our own industry: plutonium 
can be acquired in one country, 
fabricated into a device of some 
kind in a second and put to a bad 
use in a third. 

It would be prudent to assume 
that nuclear installations and materi- 
als will be regarded by terrorists as 
prime targets. Even the threat of such 
an attack is likely to guarantee the 
publicity which terrorists seek and to 
cause public pressure on govern- 
ments to acquiesce to demands. The 

37-189 O - 79 - 12 


perfectly rational attitude prevalent 
in the nuclear industry that there are 
other, more accessible targets for 
terrorism is likely to assist rather 
than to hinder the terrorist in his 
fanatical task. 

Strengthening the physical securi- 
ty of a nuclear plant, while helpful, 
is hardly likely to be sufficient— for if 
one is to assume increasingly strong 
terrorist action, nothing but full mili- 
tary security would eventually suf- 
fice. I am one of those who doubts 
whether it would be possible, let 
alone desirable, to rely upon full 
military security to safeguard so 
basic a requirement as energy, espe- 
cially in the kind of country in which 
I prefer to live. It would be better to 
design these installations so that it 
would be impossible for terrorists to 
put the reactors into a catastrophic 
accident mode. 

Reactors are already designed in 
such a way that a whole succession 
of independent malfunctions must 
occur more or less simultaneously 
before there can be a catastrophic 
accident. It must therefore be a fur- 
ther object of design to see that such 
a sequence of malfunctions cannot 
be procured by terrorists during the 
time required to raise a sufficient 
force to overcome them. 

One has also to consider the pos- 
sibility that a terrorist group might 
steal enough plutonium to construct 
a nuclear weapon. It used to be 
assumed that only weapons-grade 
plutonium was useful for this pur- 
pose. It is now generally acknowl- 
edged, however, that a relatively 
inefficient weapon could be con- 
structed with reactor-grade plutoni- 
um. The necessary information is 
readily available in published form. 
It would be a difficult task requiring 
some technical skill, and it would 
not be without grave danger to those 

undertaking it. Such a weapon might 
achieve an explosive force equiva- 
lent to several hundred tons of TNT, 
enough to cause widespread devas- 
tation. A very unpleasant weapon 
can also be devised using only a few 
grams of plutonium, merely by dis- 
persing it as an aerosol into a highly 
populated area. 

Clearly, therefore, one should de- 
sign the whole nuclear system in 
such a way as to minimize oppor- 
tunities for terrorists to capture plu- 
tonium in a form that would be 
useful to them. Some argue that this 
could best be achieved by foregoing 
fuel reprocessing and fast breeders 
altogether, because in this case the 
plutonium would never be available 
to anyone in a form that could be 
used to make weapons. Others are 
trying to develop means of transport 
and of fuel treatment that would 
render plutonium less accessible 
and less useful. 

The problem that is rightly exer- 
cising governments the most is pro- 
liferation of nuclear weapons capa- 
bility. Up until 1974, five countries 
had demonstrated their nuclear sta- 
tus: the United States, the Soviet 
Union, the United Kingdom, France 
and China. The Non-Proliferation 
Treaty which came into force in 
1970 bound its signatories "not to 
manufacture or otherwise acquire 
nuclear weapons or other explosive 
devices." The spirit of the Treaty is 
endorsed by most nations, some of 
whom such as West Germany, ja- 
pan, Canada and Sweden could 
readily have developed nuclear 
weapons had they so chosen. At the 
present time, however, 39 nations 
have not signed and 13 signatories 
have not ratified the Treaty: they 
Include' France, China, Argentina, 
Brazil, India, Pakistan, Israel, Egypt, 
: outh Africa, Spain and South 


In most ot these countries there is 
in element of isolation, insecurity, 
iocal rivalry, and ambition; in at 
east two there are grounds for sup- 
posing that a nuclear weapon could 
'ie demonstrated at short notice, 
■•erhaps within months. In some 
,3ses their nuclear facilities are sub- 
let to internationally agreed upon 
-ledges and safeguards, but not in 
ill. However, the safeguards are by 
10 means water-tight and countries 
can easily withdraw from both the 
afeguards arrangements and from 
he Treaty itself. No doubt such 
withdrawal would arouse suspicion, 
hut it is doubtful whether sanctions 
exist to act as an effective deterrent. 

It is, for example, difficult to tell 
A-hether the combined efforts of the 
United States and the Soviet Union 
nave done anything more than post- 
pone until a more propitious mo- 
ment the day when South Africa 
explodes its first nuclear device. 
India, after all, shook the world by 
doing so in 1974 under the pretext 
that it was a peaceful device. The 
plutonium for this device was made 
in a research reactor of Canadian 
design and extracted in a reprocess- 
ing plant built by the Indians. 

At the present time France has 
contracted to sell a reprocessing 
plant to Pakistan, while Germany 
has contracted to provide Brazil 
with a complete nuclear industry, 
including small enrichment and re- 
processing plants. In each case in- 
ternationally agreed safeguards will 
be applied, albeit outside the Non- 
Proliferation Treaty. It is difficult to 
see, however, what purpose will be 
served by these reprocessing plants 
other than to provide the govern- 
ments with a few kilograms of pluto- 
nium a couple of decades before 
they have any peaceful need of it. 

The time has come when govern- 
ments must engage with each other 

to see how to strengthen internation- 
al safeguards by all possible techno- 
logical, regulatory and legal means. 
They should not even shrink from 
contemplating a temporary with- 
drawal from that provision of the 
NPT which promises every assis- 
tance to the signatories in the devel- 
opment of the peaceful uses of nu- 
clear energy if that assistance seems 
likely to encourage proliferation. 

There are several other problems 
which I have not discussed above. 
First, there is the matter of uranium 
mining. It concerns us very little in 
the United Kingdom because we 
have no uranium to mine. Neverthe- 
less we bear some responsibility for 
those who mine it for us. 

Although uranium itself is only 
slightly radioactive, the accumulat- 
ed radioactivity in a uranium mine, 
especially if it is underground, and 
in the discarded tailings, is sufficient 
to be a distinct health hazard. More- 
over, if leaner deposits have to be 
developed before fast reactors come 
substantially on-line, the quantities 
of ore shifted, for a given energy 
output, may approach those for 
coal. It may then no longer be true, 
as it is now, that the health and 
safety record of the nuclear industry 
is so much better than that of the 
coal industry. 

The second problem concerns en- 
richment. In this process the con- 
centration of fissile uranium-235 in 
natural uranium is increased; until 
recently it was a very complex and 
costly process. Methods have re- 
cently been devised which make the 
process potentially less costly and 
easier for any industrialized country 
to develop. Lightly enriched urani- 
um is required for most thermal re- 
actors. Highly enriched uranium, 
which can also be used as a nuclear 
explosive, is used in research reac- 
tors and in the high temperature 


reactor whose development has 
been somewhat chequered. Clearly 
the availability of enrichment ser- 
vices and the export of enrichment 
plants pose hazards similar to those 
associated with reprocessing and the 
international traffic in plutonium. 

Finally, it is necessary to mention 
the thorium cycle. Thorium, more 
plentiful than uranium, is not itself a 
nuclear fuel. But if incorporated in a 
reactor containing fissile material, it 
breeds uranium-233, which is fissile 
and so could eventually replace plu- 
tonium in the fuel cycle. Although at 
first sight this is a very attractive 
possibility, one has to realize that 
uranium-233 is an excellent bomb 
material — better than plutonium, 
and it can be chemically separated 
from thorium as readily as plutoni- 
um can be separated from uranium. 

The remedy that has been pro- 
posed is to mix the thorium with 
natural uranium from which it can- 
not be chemically separated. The 
inevitable result, however, is that 
you breed plutonium. Nevertheless, 
a close study of how the thorium 
cycle might work in practice, and an 
assessment of its hazards relative to 
the plutonium cycle, might reveal 
advantages on balance. If so, there 
will be a great deal of work to do 
before we could have a power pro- 
gram based on the thorium cycle or 
on some combination of the two. 

During the last, year or so three 
substantial reports on the prospects 
for nuclear power and its implica- 
tions for humanity have been pub- 
lished by three responsible groups of 
independent people in three differ- 
ent countries: "Nuclear Power and 
the Environment," the Sixth Report 
of the Royal Commission on Envi- 
ronmental Pollution in the United 
Kingdom; the report of the Ranger 
Uranium Environmental Inquiry in 

Australia; and "Nuclear Power: Is- 
sues and Choices," the Ford 
Foundation/MITRE report in the 
United States. 

Each group recognized that a nu- 
clear power program of some kind 
was unavoidable at least until the 
end of the century if our material 
standards of living are to be main- 
tained: neither energy conservation 
nor the development of alternative 
sources of energy would suffice to 
supplant nuclear power over that 
time-scale. Each study group recog- 
nized that if this situation persists 
until the end of the century, despite 
greatly increased efforts to develop 
non-nuclear strategies, it would be 
difficult to resist the adoption of fast 
breeder reactors, and that fuel re^.. 
processing might then become un- 
avoidable. They regarded the con- 
tinued development of fast breeder 
reactors as a kind of long-term insur- 
ance policy. 

On the other hand each study, 
with various degrees of emphasis, 
showed remarkable accord about 
the need to take more seriously the 
consequences of accidents in nucle- 
ar installations, the safeguarding of 
nuclear operations and materials 
against sabotage and acts of terror- 
ism and above all the prevention of 
the spread of peaceful nuclear 
power leading to the proliferation of 
nuclear weapons capability. Each 
recognized that enrichment and re- 
processing facilities, especially if de- 
ployed in the context of internation- 
al trade, would exacerbate these 
problems. Each group recommend- 
ed great caution in the development 
of nuclear power beyond its present 
state, and urged that renewed atten- 
tion be given to the very difficult 
international problems which in- 
volve not only technology but poli- 


It is unnecessary and impractical 
to contemplate complete withdraw- 
al from nuclear power. We need 
nuclear power at least until alterna- 
tives, including energy conservation 
and more coal utilization, have been 
developed. The long-term future of 
nuclear power (beyond the end of 
the century) depends on how quick- 
ly we can develop alternatives, on 
energy demands, on whether global 
uranium resources are adequate for 
a continuing nuclear program with- 
out the need to breed plutonium and 
other sensitive materials, and, final- 
ly, on whether international under- 
standings are then such that nations 
which lack indigenous resources 
can rely upon foreign supplies. 

Over the past few years questions 
have been raised in scientific circles 
about the levels of radiation to 
which workers and members of the 
public can be safely exposed. These 
questions have been studied by offi- 
cial national and international 
bodies and by many independent 
bodies and individuals. The situa- 
tion can be summarized by saying 
that although there is need for con- 
tinual vigilance, there is no substan- 
tiation for the view that the basic 
radiation levels are seriously in er- 
ror. There is also no reason why they 
cannot be adapted to accord with 
•the changing pathways whereby 
radiation released to the environ- 
ment finds its way back to man. 

As far as the safety of reactors is 
concerned, safety practices in the 
nuclear industry are of the highest. 
Given that safety procedures are 
embedded in design principles, and 
given that regulatory bodies inde- 
pendently ensure the maintenance 
of high standards, it can be expected 
that the good record of the nuclear 
industry will be maintained. It is also 
expected that these safetv proce- 
dures will be extended to the design 

and operation of other nuclear in- 
stallations such as reprocessing 
plants, enabling one to have much 
greater confidence in their opera- 
tional reliability. 

Similarly there is little doubt that 
waste management techniques, in- 
cluding improved designs of storage 
tanks and the development of solidi- 
fication of liquid wastes, will be 
pushed ahead to the point where 
there should be no serious concern 
with them as interim measures. Be- 
fore a large expansion in the nuclear 
program occurs, and before reliance 
upon such an expansion develops, 
however, it is to be hoped that 
long-te'rm disposal technology will 
have been developed through de- 
sign and construction to the point 
where its practicability is seen to be 
beyond reasonable doubt. 

The issue of terrorism must be 
taken more seriously if plutonium is 
to become a commonplace, and es- 
pecially if it is to become an element 
of international traffic. The problem 
has become more complex because 
of the growth and increased sophis- 
tication of the terrorists. It arises 
from terrorism in general rather than 
nuclear power in particular. 

In the past, security investigations 
of persons concerned with sensitive 
technologies concentrated on the 
need to safeguard knowledge and 
knowhow, namely on relatively tew 
scientists and technologists whose 
knowledge would be useful to an- 
other nation. It was essentially a 
counter-espionage operation. If ter- 
rorism^ rather than espionage be- 
comes the enemy, it will be neces- 
sary to consider all those who have 
access to sensitive materials— not 
only in the nuclear industry, but in 
many others. If, as I suspect, this 
were to bring a large number of 
people under security scrutiny, the 
consequences for civil liberties 
would have to be seriously evaluat- 


ed and set against the risks of terror- 
ism. Whether these consequences 
are significant and acceptable, how- 
ever, should not be left to industry 
and the security services to judge; it 
is a matter for parliaments and the 

The most difficult problem is that 
of proliferation, because here one is 
dealing with a very complex set of 
issues ranging from national need 
for guaranteed energy supplies to 
the economic subtleties of nuclear 
fuel cycles and the emergence of 
easier routes to fissile materials. No 
nation can be prevented from devel- 
oping nuclear weapons if it really 
wants to; at best we can hope to 
slow down such developments. 

The proliferation of reprocessing 
and high enrichment plants is cru- 
cial. Are reprocessing plants really 
necessary for the management of 
nuclear wastes, as most of the nucle- 
ar world believes, or is it better to 
abandon reprocessing on the 
grounds that without it there will be 
no access to plutonium? If reproc- 
essing is here to stay, is it better that, 
for example, Brazil should have a 
plant under German supervision, or 
that it should be provoked into 
building its own (as India has done 
and Japan is doing) with only a few 
year's delay? Should reprocessing 
and enrichment services be provid- 
ed at a few internationally con- 
trolled sites which deal only in fully 
fabricated and safeguarded fuel ele- 

A fast breeder reactor program 
offers the possibility of a very long- 
term solution to the energy problem 
for many countries; but it requires 
reprocessing facilities. Should it be 
abandoned at the very stage when, 
in Europe at least, it appears likelv to 
be successful? If Europe abandons it, 
will that deter another nation from 
demonstrating its nuclear status? 

Are uranium suppliers really 
going to be able to control the use of 
spent fuel? Having already suffered 
OPEC are we now going to tolerate 

The reports of the Royal Commis- 
sion, the Ford/MITRE study and the 
Australian inquiry all urged extreme 
caution in the future development of 
nuclear power. The culmination has 
been President Carter's courageous 
initiative, not to call for a moratori- 
um on the present generation of 
nuclear reactors, nor to hinder re- 
search and development on the 
more sensitive technologies, but to 
avoid their premature commercial- 
ization pending study of alternative 
approaches which might offer great- 
er safeguards and, in the meantime, 
to assist in meeting the fuel require- 
ments of other nations. And he rec- 
ognized that if others were to be 
deterred from acquiring such facili- 
ties for themselves it might be neces- 
sary for those of us who were about 
to do so to desist until there is 
international accord about adequate 

The British government in re- 
sponse to the Royal Commission 
report has promised to hold a far- 
reaching inquiry if it is proposed to 
proceed with a further stage of fast 
breeder development. The Austra- 
lian government has responded to 
the Ranger report by agreeing to 
export uranium oxide for use in ther- 
mal reactors, but only under strict 
conditions regarding eventual re- 
processing. Elsewhere reactions 
have not been so favorable with 
several nations more determined 
than ever to press ahead with large 
nuclear programs involving reproc- 
essing and fast breeders. 

The reasons for these reactions are 
fairly obvious. North Sea oil frees 
Britain from any immediate urgency 
regarding the future of nuclear pow- 


er. The Australian government wants 
to sell its large deposits of uranium. 
The United States, rich in uranium, 
leads the world in thermal reactor 
technology and can but benefit from 
a widespread acceptance of thermal 
reactor systems. 

Europe has been more successful 
in fast breeder technology, and pos- 
sibly in reprocessing, than the Unit- 
ed States. France and Germany in 
particular want to establish their po- 
litical and economic independence 
of the United States. To many Euro- 
peans President Carter's policy is 
therefore little more than an attempt 
to slow down the successful devel- 
opments in Europe until the United 
States can catch up: for although 
immediate commercialization may 

now begin to be postponed, the 
R&D program in the United States 
continues apace with much higher 
expenditure than in Europe 

In other words, each of us is be- 
having, or is appearing to behave, in 
accordance with his own national 
advantage rather than with a genu- 
ine concern for the global problems 
of proliferation. 

I believe in President Carter's sin- 
cerity. But if his initiative is to suc- 
ceed, it is essential that a framework 
be found in which the costs and 
benefits of an anti-proliferation poli- 
cy can be fairly distributed. Other- 
wise, a major development in nucle- 
ar technology may come too soon 
for mankind to control. D 



by Norman Gall 

The weight of Brazil in world affairs in- 
creases every day. In a world full of dis- 
turbances and contradictions, the conduct 
of your country, Senhor Minister, appears 
as a factor of stability and equilibrium. — 
Toast by the West German foreign min- 
ister on the eve of the signing of the Bra- 
zil-German nuclear sales agreement, June 

The Deal 

I he 1975 nuclear deal between Brazil and 
West Germany is momentous in several 
ways. It is a major step toward diplomatic 
independence by two steadfast postwar al- 
lies of the United States in response to the 
upheavals in the world energy economy in 
the mid-1970s. It calls for the largest trans- 
fer ever made of nuclear technology to a 
developing country. This complex umbrella 
agreement threatens to establish a new kind 
of commercial rivalry for international sales 
of power reactors that could accelerate nu- 
clear weapons proliferation in the final J>- 
cades of this century. If fully implemented 
over the next 15 years, it would give the 
German reactor industry desperately needed 
export sales and fuel supplies. It also would 
meet Brazil's projected demand for atomic 
energy through 1990 and provide much of 
the technological base for Brazil to make 
nuclear weapons if she wished. The deal 
thus would satisfy the long-standing am- 
bitions of both countries for greater nu- 
clear "self-sufficiency" and would contribute 
toward realization of Brazil's dream of be- 
coming a major power. 

The Brazil-German agreement was nego- 
tiated in the months following the Indian 

nuclear explosion of May 1974. That event 
had a special psychological impact among 
developing countries, particularly Brazil and" 
Argentina, the rival "near-nuclear" neigh- 
bors which both refused to sign the 1968 
Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear 
Weapons (NTP) . A New York Times ed- 
itorial headlined "Nuclear Madness" spear- 
headed U.S. reaction to the deal. It called 
the agreement a "reckless move that could 
set off a nuclear arms race in Latin Amer- 
ica, trigger the nuclear arming of a half- 
dozen nations elsewhere and endanger the 
security of the United States and the world 
is a whole." 1 The official Soviet reaction 
was more cautious in expressing concern for 
nuclear proliferation, reflecting Moscow's 
perennial suspicion of Germany's intentions 
in the nuclear field while avoiding language 
that might disrupt her own growing nu- 
clear trade with Bonn. More than any other 
event in the development of commercial 
nuclear power, the Brazil-German deal has 
led to intense questioning of the safety and 
viability of the international industry as 
presently organized. Some of the more im- 
portant issues were raised in a speech by 
Senator Abraham Ribicoff a few days after 
the accord became public knowledge: 

Hard economic times and the high price 
of oil have combined to establish a des- 
perate need to sell and a desperate need 
to buy nuclear power reactors. Nothing 
less than balanced international payments 
and energy self-sufficiency are at stake. 
The resulting cutthroat nuclear competi- 
tion is leading to the spread of plutonium 
reprocessing and uranium enrichment fa- 
cilities. The capability to produce nuclear 
explosives is spreading "like a plague" 
in the words of the Inspector General of 
the International Atomic Energy Agency, 
who is responsible for detecting the di- 
version of peaceful nuclear materials to 
weapons development. ... In truth, the 
United States must assume a major share 

' The New York Times. June 13, 1975, p. 36. 

Gall, Norman. Atoms for Brazil, Dangers for All. In Foreign 
Policy , vol. 23, Summer 1976, pp. 155-201. Copyriqht material 
reproduced with permission of Foreign Policy #23 (Summer 
1976) copyright 1976 by the Carnegie Endowment for Inter- 
national Peace. 


of the responsibility for the present nu- 
clear proliferation problem. We pioneered 
the civilian nuclear power technology, 
made it available to other nations through 
our atoms for peace program, and still 
clearly dominate the worldwide nuclear 
power industry. Closer attention should 
have been given to safeguards over the 
years, particularly to safeguards condi- 
tions on the re-export of U.S. nuclear 
technology by nations like France and 
West Germany. 2 

Giant Reactors 

The centerpiece of the deal is the sale to 
Brazil of between two to eight giant reac- 
tors, together worth from $2 billion to $8 
billion, that would accelerate her nuclear 
energy program toward the goals of 10,000 
megawatts of electricity generating capacity 
by 1990 and of producing 41 per cent of 
her total energy supply by 2010. 

The basic design of the power plants to 
be built by the West German consortium 
Kraftwerk Union (KWU) was developed by 
Siemens — senior partner in KWU and Ger- 
many's largest producer of electrical equip- 
ment — under license from Westinghouse, 
the world's largest reactor manufacturer. 
Westinghouse suspended these licensing ar- 
rangements in 1970, after KWU was formed 
to compete with Westinghouse in the inter- 
national market. 

The agreement, signed in Bonn on June 
27, 1975, providesfor creation of several 
mixed companies for joint Brazil-German 
participation in. all phases of the nuclear 
energy industry, from prospecting for ura- 
nium ore in Brazil to the construction of 
reactors and the manufacture of components. 
The deal also calls for intensive training of 
Brazilian professionals in nuclear technol- 
ogy and heavy participation by Brazilian 

' U.S., Congress, Senate, Congressional Record. 94th 
Cong., 1st sess., June 3. 1975, p. S9323. The fi.rst 
general disclosure of the deal came a few days earlier m 
Robert Gillette, "Nuclear Proliferation: India, Ger- 
many May Accelerate Process," Science. May 30, 
1975. 'Also see Lewis H. Dtuguid, "Brazil Nuclear 
Deal Raises U.S. Concern," Washington Post, June 1, 
1975, p. 1. 

industry, which would enable Brazil even- 
tually to become an exporter of nuclear fuels 
and equipment. The deal would generate 
contracts for some 300 German firms and 
"now assures for the first time the stability'' 
of 13,000 jobs in KWU's own offices and 
factories. A leading German weekly observed 
that "the federal government already had 
invested DM 15 billion (S5 billion) in nu- 
clear energy research out of tax moneys — 
of which at least half was for basic research 
— and now this was finally to pay off." 3 

To obtain these benefits for West Ger- 
many, Bonn has assumed the entire financial 
risk for the first two plants through a con- 
sortium of five big banks lending $1 billion 
at concessionary interest rates. Half the debt 
will be financed at 7.25 per cent by the 
Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau, a develop- 
ment bank formed to distribute Marshall 
Plan aid. The Kreditanstalt will draw one- 
third of its contribution at 3 per cent in- 
terest from a special revolving fund left over 
from the Marshall Plan used to finance Ger- 
man exports. 

The Dangers of the Deal 

Bonn's commitment to provide Brazil 
with a uranium enrichment plant and a fa- 
cility for reprocessing spent fuel, from which 
plutonium could then be extracted, raises a 
major political issue. These plants could be 
used, alternatively, for the preparation and 
recycling of reactor fuels, or for the pro- 
duction of nuclear weapons. 

In response to widespread criticism of the 
deal's dangers, West Germany obtained Bra- 
zil's reluctant agreement to a framework 
for international inspection that goes far 
beyond the safeguards required by the In- 
ternational Atomic Energy Agency ("IAEA) 
to detect any diversion of nuclear equipment 
or materials for weapons production. These 
safeguards would cover not only the life of 

' Heinz Michaels, "Querschusse aus den USA," Die 
Zeit. June 20. 1975. Also see "Atomwirtschaft: 
12,000.000 Mark fiir Deutschland." Wirtschafts- 
woche, June 27. 1975. p. 13. 


the agreement but also the useful life of all 
installations built under it and any appli- 
cation of technical know-how acquired from 
the Germans to any other nuclear facilities 
built in Brazil. 

These new "know-how" safeguards, to 
be applied for the first time in the Brazil- 
German deal, apparently now are becoming 
standardized in international sales of nu- 
clear technology as a result of an agreement 
reached, at U.S. initiative, by the principal 
supplier nations, known as the "Secret Sev- 
en." 4 at a series of secret meetings in Lon- 
don throughout 1975. 

However, nobody seems to know how 
these technology safeguards will be imple- 
mented after enrichment and reprocessing 
plants with weapons-making potential are 
delivered to countries such as Brazil, whose 
military regime for the past decade has had 
a programmatic commitment to carrying out 
"peaceful" nuclear explosions. Since there is 
no intrinsic distinction between a "peaceful" 
and a military nuclear device, the spread of 
these plants throughout the world could 
create a series of de facto situations clearly 
beyond the control of the international in- 
spection machinery. This machinery is op- 
erated by the underfinanced and understaffed 
IAEA, which is empowered only to report 
violations to the U.N. Security Council and 
has no enforcement mandate. 

The text of the Brazil-German accord 
makes it contingent upon a safeguards agree- 
ment with the-^lAEA, "assuring that these 
nuclear materials, equipment, and installa- 
tions, as well as the special fertile and fission- 
able materials produced in them, processed 
or used, and the respective technological in- 
formation, are not used for nuclear weap- 
ons or other nuclear explosives." However, 
the semiofficial commentary published with j 
the text in the Brazilian press said: "For 
Brazil, this does not represent a commit- 
ment to forgo nuclear devices in the fu- 
ture. . . . One can presume that this does not 

• The United States, Canada, France, Great Britain. 
Japan, the Soutet Union, and West Germany. 

rule out the possibility of Brazil develop- 
ing her own technology based on knowl- 
edge acquired by Brazilian technicians who 
become familiarized, in time, with the jet- 
nozzle process." 5 


> Uranium exploration and mining: Ini- 
tial exploration of two areas totaling 73,000 
square kilometers. Guaranteed delivery of 
20 per cent of any ore to German utilities, 
with proportion increasing later. NUCLE- 
BRAS (the new Brazilian state nuclear energy 
corporation) share, 51 per cent in joint 

> Uranium enrichment: Construction in 
Germany of a pilot plant by 1981. with an 
industrial-scale plant to be built later in 
Brazil, using experimental jet-nozzle tech- 
nique being developed by Germans. NUCLE- 
BRAS share, 75 per cent. 

> Fuel fabrication: Pilot plant, then com- 
mercial plant built by Germans. NUCLEBRAS 
share, 70 per cent. 

> Reprocessing of spent fuel: Construction 
of pilot plant under technical assistance 
agreement between NUCLEBRAS and German 
consortium. NUCLEBRAS share, 100 per 

> Power plants: Two 1,300-megawatt 
pressurized water reactors by 1985, and op- 
tion for six more by 1990, with increas- 
ing participation by Brazilian industry in 
construction and component manufacture 
to reach 70 per cent bv 19S0 and 90 per 
cent by 1990. 

Looking beyond the dangers of nuclear 
weapons proliferation in exports of the 
"complete fuel cycle," the Brazil-German 
deal reflects the centrifugal forces in the post- 
war international power structure that have 
been gaining momentum in recent years. At 
the height of U.S. influence, the principal 

' From the Portuguese text of the agreement and com- 
mentaries published in Jornal do Brasil. June 28, 
1975, p. 11. 


supports of the Western system were the 
American command of strategic nuclear 
weaponry, the role of the dollar in assuring 
monetary stability, and U.S. control of crit- 
ical fuel supplies through the overseas pe- 
troleum reserves held by the major oil com- 
panies and through the commitment of the 
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to 
provide enriched uranium for the West's 
nuclear power plants. Now all of these ele- 
ments of U.S. power have declined in im- 
portance, forcing adherents to this power, 
such as Brazil and West Germany, to make 
bargains for themselves in a much more un- 
certain world. 

The Impact of the Energy Crisis 

Brazil's nuclear deal with West Germany 
must be viewed in terms of the impact of 
the energy crisis on Brazil's rapid economic 
growth that has created a dominant role for 
her in South America. Under the pressures 
of the energy crisis, Brazil has reached into 
the South American heartland to make ar- 
rangements for critical energy supplies with 
two of her weaker neighbors, Bolivia and 
Paraguay. These two deals are for natural 
gas from Bolivia and for a huge binational 
hydroelectric dam, Itaipu, to be built jointly 
with Paraguay. Both were negotiated over 
the opposition of Brazil's traditional rival, 
Argentina, which during the 1950s and 
1960s developed^ long lead over Brazil in 
nuclear technology and has been suspected 
of attempting to fabricate nuclear weapons 
of her own. 

While Brazil's ambitions and geopolitical 
rivalries will be discussed more fully later, 
it is worth stressing here that Brazil has 
been moving toward a new and still un- 
defined role in world affairs in the tense 
climate created by the quadrupling of oil 
prices in 1973-1974. As the developing 
world's. leading oil importer, Brazil has been 
in deep balance-of-payments trouble since 
the 1973 Middle East war. Consequently, 
she has adopted a new "ecumenical prag- 
matism" in her foreign policy by which she 

has moved closer to the Arabs diplomatical- 
ly and has sought to diversify her export 
markets and her sources of energy, technol- 
ogy, and foreign investments. 

Explaining these policy departures in a 
lecture at Chatham House, London, in Oc- 
tober 1975, Foreign Minister Antonio Aze- 
redo de Silveira said: "During the cold war, 
a rigid alignment with the leader of the 
Western bloc was required of the nations 
of the developing world that share the ba- 
sic values of the West. The reason for this 
or, if you prefer, the pretext was that the 
future of the entire system we belonged to 
was at stake and that unity was the price 
of survival." Observing that "these realities 
no longer apply to the final quarter of this 
century," Silveira explained that "an emer- 
gent power, with a wide range of interests 
in many fields, cannot allow rigid align- 
ments, rooted in the past, to limit her action 
on the world stage." He voiced hope that 
the Brazil-German nuclear deal could lead 
to a "horizontal interdependence." 

In Washington, the deal led to prolonged 
analysis of U.S. -Brazilian relations. Partly 
as a result of these deliberations, Secretary 
of State Kissinger visited Brasilia in Feb- 
ruary and signed an agreement committing 
the foreign ministers of the United States 
and Brazil to an annual exchange of visits 
for consultations on world problems, an ar- 
rangement that Brazil had sought actively 
for two years. At a dinner in his honor, Kis- 
singer pronounced an official blessing over 
Brazil as "... a nation of greatness — a peo- 
ple taking their place in the front rank of 
nations. . . . My country welcomes Brazil's 
new role in world affairs." 

The German Connection 

The "horizontal interdependence" be- 
tween Brazil and West Germany stems from 
the peculiar nature of Germany's own en- 
ergy crisis. With no oil or uranium of her 
own, West Germany is now heavily depend- 
ent on petroleum imports and has staked 
her energy future on the world's largest pet 


capita investment in nuclear power. This 
means construction of some 40 power sta- 
tions that would raise the nuclear share of 
her electricity supply from 7 per cent in 
1974 to 45 per cent in 1985, an increase 
from 4 million to 88 million tons per year 
coal equivalent. 

In implementing these plans. West Ger- 
many thus far has relied on supplies of en- 
riched uranium sold by the U.S. govern- 
ment, the main nuclear fuel supplier to 
power plants throughout the non-Commu- 
nist world. Consequently, West Germany's 
energy position was severely compromised 
by the one-two punch delivered in 1973- 

First came the oil price rises that accom- 
panied the Arab boycott. Then came an 
important event that was little noticed in 
this country outside nuclear industry and 
government circles — the suspension by the 
AEC of the signing of all new contracts for 
future supplies of enriched uranium because, 
in the surge of reactor orders in the early 
19 70s, projected commercial demands for 
enriched uranium were outstripping the ca- 
pacity of the three AEC enrichment plants 
(the newest of which was built in 1956). 
In addition, the AEC retroactively classified 
as "conditional" enrichment contracts for 
45 foreign reactors scheduled to begin op- 
eration in the early 1980s, including two 
in Brazil and 10 in West Germany. 7 It is 
still not known who will supply the en- 
riched uranium for the first two KWU plants. 

Testifying that the enrichment cutback 
was a trigger to the Brazil-German deal, the 
top State Department science official told 

"West German Energy Outlook." The Petroleum 
Economist, June 1975, p. 208. 

7 U.S., Congress, Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, 
Future Structure of the Uranium Enrichment Indus- 
try: Hearings ( Washington. DC: U.S Government 
Printing Office. 1974). pt. 3. vol. II. phase III. 
p 1)51. For a detailed and perceptive account of the 
international enrichment crisis in the 1970s, see Edivard 
F Wonder. International Uranium Enrichment Co- 
operation: The American Case (Ottawa: The Norman 
Patterson School of International Affairs, Carleton 
University, mimeograph, December 1975). 

Congress: "We have run out of capacity. 
We saw that coming. We did not take ac- 
tion." 8 According to a spokesman for West- 
inghouse which is building Brazil's first nu- 
clear power plant and was negotiating to 
build more: 

We thought . . . that we pretty well had 
that business locked up until the ques- 
tion of contracts between Brazil and the 
U.S. government for the slightly enriched 
uranium for fuel came to a sudden halt, 
and the Brazilians were denied firm con- 
tracts for the slightly enriched fuel, and 
at that point, any further industrial dis- 
cussions between ourselves and the Brazil- 
ians ceased and Brazil started discussions 
with West Germany, with the results that 
were recently announced. 9 

While it is not at all clear that Westing- 
house had Brazil's future reactor orders 
"locked up" by July 1974, many special- 
ists see the U.S. cutoff of future enrichment 
commitments as having created both a rea- 
son and an opportunity for Brazil and West 
Germany to act together to implement sep- 
arate strategic aims. Brazil has long ex- 
pressed interest in "self-sufficiency" in the 
the nuclear fuel cycle for civilian and/or 
military purposes, while West Germany has 
wanted to make inroads into the fast-devel- 
oping international nuclear energy market 
that has been dominated by U.S. manu- 

West Germany has been driven to search 
for new export markets and for critical fuel 
supplies by the loss of direct control of most 
of the world's known oil reserves by the 
major Anglo-American oil companies, and 
the inability of the U.S. government to 
maintain its open-ended commitment to fuel 
the world's nuclear power plants. This 

" Testimony by Myron B. Kratzer, acting auatant 
secretary. Bureau of Oceans and International Affairs, 
State Department, U.S.. Congress. Senate. Committee 
on Foreign Relations. International Organization and 
Security Agreements: Hearings. July 22, 1975. 

' Testimony by A. L. Bethel of Westinghouse. U.S.. 
Congress. House. Committee on Interior and Insular 
Affairs. International Proliferation of Nuclear Tech- 
nology: Hearings. July 22, 1975 (Washington, DC: 
Government Printing Office, 1975), pt. ), p. 67. 


search has led Germany to act as a catalyst 
of the nationalist ambitions of such coun- 
tries as Brazil, Iran, and South Africa in 
trading her technology for fuel supplies. 10 

West Germany's efforts to capture the 
Brazilian reactor market began in June 
1968, shortly after Siemens won the Atucha 
I contract to build Latin America's first nu- 
clear power plant in Argentina. Foreign 
Minister Willy Brandt, during a visit to 
Brazil, publicly expressed German interest 
in supplying Brazil with nuclear technology. 
A few months later a former vice minister 
of foreign affairs, Pio Correa, was hired as 
president of the Siemens subsidiary in Bra- 
zil. A bilateral agreement for scientific and 
technical cooperation was signed in 1969. 
A key role in these negotiations was played 
by the new president of NUCLEBRAS (the 
new Brazilian state nuclear energy corpora- 
tion) , Paulo Nogueira Batista, who then be- 
came the minister-counselor of the Brazilian 
embassy in Bonn to implement the accord. 

Brazilian technicians were sent to Ger- 
many for training in nuclear engineering, 
and in 1971 a formal working relationship 
was established between Brazil's National 
Council for Nuclear Energy (CNEN) and 
the Center for Nuclear Research in Julich, 
whose representatives were to help in pro- 
moting exports of German nuclear technol- 
ogy. Visits of German scientists to Brazil 
under this agreement led to rumors, report- 
ed in the London Sunday Times, "of Ger- 
mans conducting nuclear research in areas 
that would be ruled out if it were attempted 
on German soil." The Soviet defense min- 
istry newspaper Red Star interpreted the 
scientific agreement as a German attempt to 
draw Brazil into its "atomic diplomatic 
game" and to encourage Brazil to reject the 
NPT. 11 
. Apparently, intensive negotiations with 

"See Robert Gerald Livingston, "Germany Steps Up. 

the Germans did not begin until after the 
U.S. cutoff of future contracts for enriched 
uranium in July 1974. A number of 
important Germans visited Brazilia in mid- 
1974 on secret business, among them 
State Secretary of Technology Hans Hilgar 
Haunschild, former Defense Minister Franz 
Josef Strauss, and State Secretary for For- 
eign Affairs Hans George Sachs. 12 Agree- 
ment on the Brazil-German deal was reached 
on February 12, 1975. The U.S. ambas- 
sador in Bonn was informed a week later, 
and a general outline of the agreement filter- 
ed into the American trade press within a 
few days. 13 

Meanwhile, the 38-year-old head of the 
"international section" of the Julich nuclear 
research center, Klaus Scharmer, defended 
Germany's new relationship with Brazil: 

Brazil has the capacity — and will use it 
— to produce components and even build 
nuclear installations on her own. Only a 
partner that knows this aptitude can 
maintain fruitful contact for a long pe- 
riod. We thus saw that to try to sell in- 
stallations to Brazil on a turnkey basis 
would be an unwise policy. We must 
combat the "development gap" that tends 
to grow between countries that are more 
and less developed. We must try to hasten 
the advance of the underdeveloped. 14 

U.S. Objections 

The 1975 nuclear deal readily evokes 
memories of the U.S. -German rivalry for 
the Brazilian market that began before 
World War I and reached its climax during 
the arms race of the 1930s. 15 In both Ger- 

" Politico Nuclear: Os projetos, as alternativas e o 
misteno," Visao. September 9, 1974, pp. 27-28. 

" The dates were given in Frankfurter Allgemeine. 
Jane 5, 1975. Translation from German Press Re- 
view. June 11, 1975, p. 3. First news of the negotia- 
tions appeared in Nucleonics Week, February 20. 

" "Depois da vitoriapolitica, desado talvez mais difi- 
cil," Visao. July 7, 1975. p. 16. 

"H. Jon P.osenbaum ana Glenn M. Cooper, Brazil 
and the Proliferation Trea:u." 'ntern uional 
Affairs. January 19/0. p. 88. 

" See Stanley J Hilton, Brazil and the Great Powers. 
1930-1939: The Politic? of Tr.ide Riva'ry (Austin: 
University of Texas Press, 197 5 J. 

many and Brazil, U.S. objections to the nu- 
clear deal were widely interpreted as reflect- 
ing the disappointment of American sup- 
pliers who had sought the contract. While 
U.S. newspapers and politicians urged the 
Ford Administration to pressure Bonn into 
rescinding or modifying the Brazilian deal, 
Washington's negotiating position was se- 
verely undermined by its inability to offer 
other nations an alternate source of reactor 

Chancellor Helmut Schmidt expressed 
surprise that the Brazil deal had not been 
mentioned by the Americans at a high level. 
Thus, two days before the accord was signed 
in Bonn, Schmidt told a press conference 
that "some of this exciteu discussion — some 
of it also in a segment of the American press 
— would appear rather clearly to go back to 
the very tangible interests of major indus- 
trial firms in the United States." 

The German press took the same tack 
with much greater vehemence. "In order to 
get contracts the Americans fight in the in- 
ternational competition with heavy gloves," 
said the liberal, pro- Western Die Zeit of 
Hamburg. "No matter where a plant is be- 
ing planned, American diplomats agitate as 
if they were employees of the American 
firms." One German official complained that 
"our strongest competitors are actually not 
Westinghouse or General Electric. The 
strongest competitor is the American Ex- 
port-Import Bank. . . . Even when we try to 
lower the burden of interest through all 
sorts of tricks, the Eximbank comes in with 
2 per cent less." 18 

Leading German papers claimed that 
American reactor salesmen in Iran, Yugo- 
slavia, and Argentina spread rumors that 
KWU's financial difficulties would prevent it 
from making promised deliveries, and sug- 
gested that reliable supplies of reactor fuels 
might not be available if U.S. -built power 

plants were not ordered. Further question- 
ing of American motives occurred in Jan- 
uary 1975, while negotiations for the Bra- 
zilian deal were in their final stages, when 
the United States objected, in NATO coun- 
cils, to a West German reactor export to the 
Soviet Union as part of a package deal that 
would have included Soviet sales of elec- 
tricity to Germany. 17 A leading German eco- 
nomic weekly gave this view of the inten- 
sifying competition: 

With the Brazil deal, KWU is breaking 
into a new market that previously was 
firmly in the grip of U.S. companies. 
Westinghouse and GE are trying to pro- 
tect their shrinking market position in 
various ways: hard sell by sales managers 
and U.S. government permission, wher- 
ever possible, to apply massive political 
pressure to those who issue the contracts. 
Just as the U.S. aircraft industry man- 
aged to check foreign airplane producers, 
the U.S. reactor industry is blocking com- 
petition from other countries. 18 

Geopolitics of Uranium 

On top of the intensifying competition 
for export markets, the disorder in the in- 
ternational reactor industry has been com- 
pounded by the new uncertainty about the 
future U.S. capacity to export enriched ura- 
nium, thus creating a new geopolitics of 
uranium supplies. After the AEC cutoff in 
1974 of new enrichment contracts, the So- 
viets have become important suppliers of 
enriched uranium to Western Europe. More- 
over, the West Germans have been trying to 
diversify their sources of uranium by pro- 
viding their own enrichment technology, 
the experimental Becker jet-nozzle process, 
to two potential uranium suppliers, Brazil 
and South Africa. The Germans are reported 
to have secretly assisted the South Africans, 
with exchanges of visits by key officials, 

" Heinz Michaels, "Querschusse aus den USA," Die 
Zeit. June 20, 1975, and " Atomwirtschaft : 12,000,- 
000 Mark fur Deutschland," Wirtschaftswoche. June 
17 . 1975, p. li. 

" The deal foundered over Soviet -German disagreement 
on Bonn's insistence that the electric power lines from 
the reactor pass through West Berlin en route to West 

W-rtschaftsw^hc. c; . cit. 


to develop something very similar to the 
jet-nozzle technology the Germans will be 
providing Brazil under the new deal; in 
October 1975, a West German air force 
general was forced to resign when news 
leaked out of an undercover trip he made 
to South Africa that included a visit to a 
nuclear research center. 19 Two months later, 
The Economist reported that Iran, which 
is South Africa's main oil supplier and has 
an ambitious nuclear program of her own, 
may also finance commercial development of 
South Africa's jet-nozzle process in return 
for guaranteed supplies and access to the 

Similarly, one of the main hopes for both 
sides in the Brazil-German deal is that Ger- 
man geologists will help discover substan- 
tial uranium reserves that they believe to 
exist in Brazil. (While she has large proven 
deposits of thorium, a fertile material that 
can be made into reactor fuel and bomb 
material, no commercial technology has been 
developed so far for the use of thorium in 
power plants.) 

Brazil has greatly intensified her uranium 
exploration since 1969 but with uncertain 
results. What was initially reported in mid- 
1975 to be a major find of 50,000 tons of 
uranium ore, in the pre-Cambrian rock of 
the Brazilian shield in the sprawling inland 
state of Goias, was modified two months 
later by an official estimate of only 1,500 
tons. German geologists are now fanning 
out over the northern Amazon basin to seek 
new uranium deposits, with 80 per cent of 
their exploration expenses subsidized by 
Bonn. This is because Brazil's present proven 
reserves are far from enough to pay, in any 
significant degree, for the huge transfer of 
nuclear technology that is envisioned for the 
next 15 years. 

Meanwhile, German firms have found 
valuable deposits in Namibia (South- West 
Africa) and are also exploring for uranium 
in Austria. Algeria, Australia. Canada, In- 

donesia, Nigeria. Spain, Switzerland. Togo, 
and the United States. Defending Bonn 
against criticism of the Brazil deal, Munich's 
leading newspaper observed that "the tem- 
porary export stop of the United States of 
uranium products made strikingly clear the 
dependence not only of the Federal Republic 
but also of the entire Western world on 
American fuel for nuclear reactors." 20 

Enrichment: The Gordian Knot 

Uranium enrichment involves a scale of 
industrial activity without precedent. The 
U.S. government's Oak Ridge gaseous dif- 
fusion plant contains more than 1,500 ma- 
chines, each the size of a railroad car, spread 
over more than 100 acres of factory floor. 
The electricity needed to drive these ma- 
chines costs $500,000 a day. They are cooled 
by up to 90 million gallons of water daily, 
evaporating in huge clouds that form over 
the Tennessee Valley. To build such a plant 
today would cost $6 billion. 

As long as these huge costs and the U.S. 
domination of gaseous diffusion technology 
prevented other nations from entering the 
business, the United States has been able to 
use her control of supplies of enriched ura- 
nium as a way to prevent nuclear prolif- 
eration. This leverage was applied by en- 
couraging other nations to depend on U.S. 
enrichment services, on the condition that 
all fuels, and the plutonium therein, be 
monitored against diversion bilaterally or 
by international inspection. These controls 
have become less effective with the multi- 
plication of reactors throughout the world 
and the spread of enrichment capacity, with 
new technologies, to other countries. The 
Brazil-German deal is the first major con- 
sequence of the accelerated scramble for al- 
ternate sources of reactor fuel, issuing from 
the inability of the United States to sign 
contracts that would commit U.S. sources 
to a major investment in expanded enrich- 
ment capacity. 

" Robert Gillette, "Uranium Enrichment : With Help 
South Africa Is Progressing." Science. June 13, 1975. 

" Sueddeutsche Zeitung, June 5. 1975. 


In seeking the "complete fuel cycle" in 
exchange for a commitment to export en- 
riched uranium to West Germany, Brazil 
originally had asked Bonn to provide the 
new gas centrifuge technology, which is said 
to use much less energy than the gaseous dif- 
fusion process used in the United States. But 
this proposition was vetoed by the Dutch, 
who share control of the centrifuge pro- 
cess with Britain and West Germany as 
partners in URENCO, the European enrich- 
ment consortium, now building a centrifuge 
plant in the Netherlands. 

Instead, the Brazilians had to settle for 
the experimental jet-nozzle process which is 
mechanically simpler than the two other 
technologies but consumes more electricity: 
nearly twice as much as the gaseous diffu- 
sion process and 20 times more than the 
centrifuge. While simpler mechanically than 
the other processes, the jet nozzle poses for- 
midable technical problems of its own. 

To separate the fissionable U-235 from 
the nonfissionable U-238 in gaseous form 
under enormous pressures, uranium hexaflor- 
ide gas (mixed with hydrogen) is pumped 
through a long slit, forming a rapidly mov- 
ing sheet of gas. The gas strikes a curved 
wall, where centrifugal forces carry the 
heavier U-238 (making up 99.3 per cent 
of the gas) to the outer surface of the sheet. 
The isotopes are separated along paring 
blades with tolerances of 0.00005 (five hun- 
dred-thousandths J of an inch that must re- 
main accurate, stress-resistant, and stable un- 
der these pressures. 

The jet nozzle process, in laboratory 
tests, has been so energy-intensive that only 
a few nations, such as Brazil or Switzer- 
land, have enough cheap hydroelectric pow- 
er to use it economically. Moreover, the in- 
dustrial-scale engineering problems are still 
unsolved. The prospects of the jet nozzle 
competing with the centrifuge process in 
Europe were so dubious that in May 1974 
Bonn's research minister ordered a cutoff of 
federal subsidies for development of the jet 
nozzle, only to have the order reversed un 

der industrial and bureaucratic pressure. De- 
velopment of the jet nozzle has continued 
as a technology for the export trade. 21 

One of the striking features of the deal is 
that NUCLEBRAS will actually finance devel- 
opment of the experimental German jet- 
nozzle enrichment process now in the pilot 
plant stage, into an industrial-scale oper- 
ation. If sufficient uranium discoveries are 
made in Brazil, or if ore can be shipped 
economically from abroad, Brazil could be- 
come an important exporter of enriched ura- 
nium. But a huge commitment is needed to 
bring this technology into industrial pro- 
duction. Last year, for example, the South 
Africans disclosed that merely to bring their 
version of the jet-nozzle process to the pilot 
plant stage, they were employing 1,200 
persons and had spent $148 million since 
1970. Brazil has few scientists and techni- 
cians available for this scale of nuclear re- 
search. To build a full-scale enrichment 
plant in Brazil, an investment of billions of 
dollars would be needed. Her available hu- 
man and financial resources are already over- 
committed, and there must be serious doubts 
as to whether Brazil can sustain or justify 
such an effort on a process that is still un- 

The International Reactor Industry 

The increasing cost and uncertainty of 
oil supplies has stimulated ambitious plans 
in several countries for new atomic power 
plants that would increase the nuclear por- 
tion of the West's electrical generating ca- 
pacity from 2 per cent to 1 5 per cent in 
1985. But unexpected increases in both cap- 
ital costs and time needed to build these 
plants have caused suspensions and cancella- 
tions of orders from utilities. The added cap- 
ital outlays have tended to nullify the lower 
operating costs that are the nuclear plants' 

"See Robert Gillette. "Nozzle Enrichment for Sale," 
Science. May 30, 1975 ; James J. Glackm. "The Dan- 
gerous Drift of Uranium Enrichment." Bulletin of the 
Atomic Scientists. February 1976: and Jonathan 
Kwttny "Enriching Venture." The Wall Street Jour- 
nal. November 20, 1975. 


main commercial advantage. Inflation will 
be pushing the aggregate price tags of the 
West's nuclear power plants to between 
$1 trillion and SI. 5 trillion by the early 

At the same time, strong public opposi- 
tion to nuclear power has spread from the 
United States to France, Germany, Japan, 
and Sweden, compounding the inflation and 
delay. Foreign demand for nuclear power 
plants has grown far faster than U.S. de- 
mand, with 50 per cent more nuclear gen- 
erating capacity already existing abroad. 
Both U.S. and European reactor manufac- 
turers have responded to inflation and de- 
lay at home by competing fiercely for export 
sales in third markets, especially in devel- 
oping countries with authoritarian regimes 
that need not worry about public opposi- 

According to separate projections by the 
IAEA and AEC, the market for nuclear pow- 
er among developing nations is likely to be 
concentrated in a handful of countries. The 
IAEA estimated that more than half the in- 
stalled nuclear generating capacity by the 
year 2000 will be absorbed by only four 
nations: Brazil, India, Iran, and Mexico, 
and that 70 per cent of the same market 
will be concentrated in eight countries. 

However, a more detailed study subse- 
quently commissioned by the AEC found 
even this limited market potential to be 
"too optimistic," due to extremely loose 
forecasts of electricity demand, ignorance of 
costs, shortages of foreign exchange, and the 
inability of many national electricity sys- 
tems to absorb the output of large nuclear 
plants. This independent study, by Rich- 
ard J. Barber Associates of Washington, 
stresses the importance of the sales push of 
companies and governments in developing 
this market: 

Nuclear reactor system vendors have ac- 
knowledged, more or less openly, that 

many of the initial nuclear plants sold 
both domestically and internationally 
under "turnkey" arrangements were (and 
apparently still are, in the case of new 
reactor types) "loss leaders" for which 
the reported prices paid by utilities sig- 
nificantly understated the true cost of 
building the plants. Governments have 
clearly subsidized domestic and interna- 
tional power sales of their vendors by 
means of no-interest or low-interest loans, 
loan guarantees, absorption of research 
and development costs, preferential ac- 
cess to and pricing of fuels and reproces- 
sing services, etc. The amount of such 
subsidies is often concealed, thus distort- 
ing the true cost of the power station. 
. . . The German government, for exam- 
ple, underwrote the success of Siemens' 
sale to Argentina by giving the Argen- 
tine government a five year no-interest 
loan, a subsequent very low interest loan, 
and balance-of-payments considerations. 
France managed to sell a reactor unit in 
Spain in return for loans covering 90 per 
cent of its cost and agreeing to represent 
Spanish interests in the Common Market. 
It is common knowledge in nuclear in- 
dustry circles that German, U.S., and 
Canadian vendors "lost their shirts" on 
their initial sales to Argentina, India, and 

Until the Brazil-German deal was nego- 
tiated, there had been little official concern 
or public discussion as to the economic wis- 
dom and military implications of the drive 
to export, and even give away, nuclear re- 

The plutonium for India's 1974 nuclear 
explosion was diverted from the unsafe- 
guarded "Cirus" research reactor donated 
by Canada in 1956, for which the AEC sup- 
plied heavy water. India's first nuclear power 
plant, built by General Electric (GE) was 
financed with a $74 million U.S. foreign 
aid loan at 0.75 per cent interest over 30 
years after a 10-year initial grace period, 
with additional support coming from the 
AEC and the Ford and Rockefeller foun- 
dations. 23 

"The Case Against Nuclear Power.'' The Econo- 
list, May 10. 1975. p. 84. 

" Pan Heuristics. Moving Toward Life in a Nuclear 
Armed Crowd (unpublished report to the U.S. Arms 
Control and Disarmament Agency). 


With her own scientific community build- 
ing on the technological base provided by 
the United States and Canada, India has cre- 
ated an immense network of nuclear facili- 
ties of all types. The "Cirus" reactor is lo- 
cated at the Trombay laboratories, near 
Bombay, which alone employs 10,400 per- 
sons, including 2,400 scientists. During con- 
struction of the plutonium separation facili- 
ty at Trombay, senior Indian scientists re- 
peatedly visited the AEC reprocessing plant 
in Idaho, under the "Atoms for Peace'* pro- 
gram, for extensive interviews with staff 
members on the technical problems of ex- 
tracting plutonium from spent fuel. Today 
India manufactures her own rockets and 
solid fuel propellants, and plans to launch 
rockets by 1979 capable of putting a 1,200- 
kilogram payload into orbit, or of delivering 
nuclear warheads anywhere in Asia. India's 
example has not been lost on other ascen- 
dant powers. While several countries are 
now trying to acquire nuclear technology 
with bomb-making potential, Brazil and In- 
dia are the only two developing countries 
carrying out space programs with their own 
launching facilities. 24 

However risky and unprofitable the ex- 
port trade in nuclear technology now may 
seem, this is precisely the direction in which 
the industry keeps moving. 25 German and 
French reactor manufacturers, still marginal 
in the international industry, have fought 
for survival, seizing on the 1974 U.S. en- 

" Robert Gillette, "India: Into the Nuclear Club on 
Canada's Shoulders," Science. June 7 , 1974. For a de- 
tailed Canadian account of India's nuclear development, 
see Barrie Morrison and Donald M. Page, "India's 
option: the nuclear route to achieve goal as world 
power." International Perspectives, July-August 1974. 

"France, for example, arranged in 1975 to build re- 
processing plants in South Korea and Pakistan. While 
the South Korean deal was canceled in earlu 1976, 
thanks largely to U.S. pressure on Seoul, the Pakistan 
deal subsequently was approved by the IAEA and is 
going through. Prime Minister Zulhkar Ali Bhutto has 
vowed that Pakistan would match India's nuclear ca- 
pacity even if Pakistanis had "to eat grass" to mobi- 
lize the resources. Industry sources estimate that tor a 
reprocessing plant to be economically viable for civilian 
uses, it n.ust reprocess spent fuels from at least 20 
reactors. Pakistan has only one nuclear power plant. 

richment cutoff as an opportunity to win 
power plant sales by offering such "sweeten- 
ers" — with bomb-making potential — as the 
technology for uranium enrichment and for 
plutonium separation from spent fuel. 

Competing U.S. firms cannot legally offer 
these "sweeteners." but the pressure for them 
to do so is very great as escalating costs and 
political complications have shrunk the do- 
mestic market: In 1975, only seven nuclear 
power plants were ordered in the United 
States, compared with 18 abroad, and a 
U.S. deal to build eight nuclear plants in 
Iran is stalled in a dispute over Iran's insis- 
tence on the right to reprocess her own spent 
fuel. In November 1975, the Shah told 
Business Week: "In atomic energy you are 
asking us for safeguards that are incompati- 
ble with our sovereignty, things that the 
French or the Germans would never dream 
of asking." 26 

Two months later, a Westinghouse repre- 
sentative complained to Congress: "The 
U.S. government is proposing to attach a 
permanent veto power over nuclear fuel pro- 
cessing in Iran, as a precondition for sale of 
U.S. nuclear reactors. Other vendors from 
Germany and France are already selling nu- 
clear reactors to Iran without such condi- 
tions. The result is obvious — the U.S. has 
sold no reactors to Iran, despite an Iranian 
desire to buy a large number." 27 

These broader economic and political con- 
siderations make the implementation of the 
Brazil-German deal a critical indicator of 
the future course of the international reactor 
industry. The compulsion to export is deep- 
ly felt in this high-risk, capital-intensive, 
heavily-subsidized industry. The instability 
is such that even West Germany's huge 
"complete fuel cycle" deal with Brazil was 

" "Recession's Impact on Iran: Interview with Shah 
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi." Business Week. November 
17. 1975, p. 57. 

" Testimony by Dwight J. Porter of Westinghouse, 
U.S., Congress, Senate, Government Operations Com- 
mittee. Nuclear Proliferation; Hearings, January 29, 


not enough to dissuade AEG Telefunken 
from trying to withdraw as Siemen's part- 
ner in KWU. citing 1974 losses of $287 mil- 
lion. 28 Explaining West Germany's over- 
seas sales drive, a KWU spokesman told a 
Brazilian journalist: 

We have to export. KWU has the capacity 
for construction of six reactors a year, and 
would be very satisfied if it could build 
three of them in Germany now. We can't 
export to France or Spain because the 
American competition is very strong. We 
were able to sell one reactor each in Ar- 
gentina, Holland, Austria, and Switzer- 
land, and have begun to build two in 
Iran. 29 

However, nobody has determined the real 
cost of these exports, nor the real benefits 
likely to accrue to customers and suppliers, 
nor whether these big deals will provide any 
real guarantees for the industry against an 
increasingly uncertain future. Nor is it clear 
whether any economic gains could outweigh 
the mounting dangers of nuclear prolifera- 

The Rivalry 

While the world energy crisis and the in- 
stability of the international reactor industry 
created the conditions for the Brazil-German 
nuclear deal, Brazil's "great power" aspira- 
tions and the peculiar nature of her own en- 
ergy crisis provided the incentives. More- 
over, Brazil's nuclear rivalry with Argen- 
tina made the risks of not seizing upon this 
opportunity unacceptable from a military 
point of view. 

Although achieving power and prestige 
in proportion to her size long has been a 
major aim of Brazilian foreign policy, these 
ambitions have only been taken seriously 
since the military seized power in April 

" "AEG to Pull Out of Kcaftwerh Union, Either Par- 
tially or Completely," Nucleonics Week, November 7 , 
1974, p. I. 

"Depots da vitoria. . . ." Visao. op. cit., p. 16. 

1964. Tightly restricting mass consumption 
and civil liberties while providing incentives 
and guarantees that attracted large amounts 
of foreign investment, a succession of mili- 
tary regimes set the stage for the so-called 
Brazilian "miracle." 

This was a surge of rapid economic devel- 
opment crowned by a growth rate averaging 
10 per cent yearly in the 1968-1974 period, 
a "miracle" that was a conspicuous benefi- 
ciary of low oil prices and of the radical ex- 
pansion of the world's money supply and 
trade in the postwar decades. As industriali- 
zation advanced by giant strides, Brazilians 
began to see themselves emerging from the 
role of a "key country" in the global strat- 
egy of the United States to become an im- 
portant military-political force in their own 
right. During the visit to Washington in 
1971 of President Emilio Garrastazu Medici 
(1969-1974), those aspirations were en- 
couraged by President Nixon's oft-quoted 
blessing: "As Brazil goes, so goes South 

While Brazil's relative geopolitical posi- 
tion has been strengthened greatly by the 
political disintegration of Argentina in the 
1970s, Argentina one day could recover suf- 
ficiently to inhibit Brazilian maneuvers in 
South America. At the same time, the energy 
crisis has become a crucial factor in Brazil's 
future growth and influence. While Brazil 
today is the world's fifth-largest country in 
area and seventh-largest in population, there 
is no other continental nation so deficient in 
economically useful deposits of fossil fuels. 

Brazil's main energy asset at present is 
the immense hydroelectric potential of her 
great rivers, which is being harnessed at an 
impressive rate. Hydroelectric production 
has increased thirteenfold over the past three 
decades and tripled since the mid-1960s, 
leading to fears that the water-flow potential 
near the major cities may be exhausted be- 
fore the turn of the century. This is being 
given as the main economic justification for 
Brazil's embarking on an ambitious nuclear 
power program, even though electricity de- 


mand is unlikely to continue growing at the 
rate of recent decades. According to NUCLE- 
BRAS president Nogueira Batista: 

By 1980, our hydroelectric resources 
would be exhausted in the southeast and 
the Sao Francisco Valley. We will still 
have at that time only the hydroelectric 
potential of the Amazon (90,000 mega- 
watts) , a good deal of which is in the 
region's north (far from markets). . . . 
The fact is that the installation of our 
nuclear reactors near the centers of con- 
sumption will enable these energy re- 
sources to be used right there without 
costly and wasteful long-distance trans- 
mission. 30 

The Impact of India 

The Indian nuclear explosion of May 
1974 had a major impact in both Argentina 
and Brazil. For some time these two coun- 
tries had viewed each other's activities in 
the nuclear field with suspicion. After May 
1974 it became a topic of common table 
talk among the elites of both countries to 
speculate about who would get the bomb 
first. Indeed, the Argentine magazine Es- 
trategia praised the Indian peaceful nuclear 
explosive (PNE) as showing "how an un- 
derdeveloped and technologically dependent 
country can attain objectives based exclu- 
sively on her own appreciation of the priori- 
ties of national defense." 31 The same article 

The projections of Brazil's demographic 
growth place Argentina at a disadvantage 
that will tend to widen markedly over 
the next 30 years. Despite all the distor- 
tions of her growth, Brazil will become 
an important power, causing Argentina, 
if she does not adopt pertinent policies, to 
find it increasingly difficult to overcome 
Brazil or even maintain a situation of 
relative equilibrium. . . . Argentina is, 
for the moment, ahead in nuclear tech- 
nology. The Atucha power reactor, using 

natural uranium, is now operational and 
the project for the new reactor in Rio 
Tercero assures [Argentina] an advan- 
tage for at least the medium term. . . . 
Argentina and Brazil both are theoretical- 
ly capable of producing an atomic bomb. 
This would mean, above all, a political 
decision, [emphasis in original] 

The present nuclear rivalry of Brazil and 
Argentina dates from the early postwar peri- 
od. Initially, Brazil supported U.S. efforts 
to control the development of atomic energy 
by secretly agreeing in 1945 to limit her 
thorium exports to consignees "in the Unit- 
ed States or . . . designated or approved by 
the United States" in return for annual 
U.S. purchases of specified amounts of thor- 
ium ore. 32 However, Brazil's rivalry with 
Argentina soon led both countries to try to 
acquire technology developed in the unsuc- 
cessful German atom bomb project. 

Shortly after the Argentine National 
Commission for Atomic Energy (CNEA) 
was formed in 1950, President Juan Peron 
appointed Ronald Richter, an emigre Austri- 
an nuclear physicist who had done fusion 
research in Nazi Germany, as director of a 
new research facility on a remote island in a 
lake in southern Argentina. The facility was 
launched with considerable publicity. 33 
Twenty months before the first U.S. ther- 
monuclear (hydrogen) explosion, Peron 
gave a press conference to tell the world: 
"On February 16, 1951, in the atomic en- 
ergy pilot plant on the island of Huemul, 
in San Carlos de Bariloche, thermonuclear 
reactions were carried out under controlled 
conditions on a technical scale." Peron then 
turned the press conference over to Richter, 
who told the reporters: "I control the ex- 
plosion. I make it increase or diminish at my 

" Mauricio Dias. "Entrevista: Paulo Nogueira Batista, 
Veja. July 23. 1975. 

"Luis Garasiru, "Explosion Atdmica en la India: 
Pro'jcccion El' ntua! en America Latina,' Estrategia, 

" From a recently declassified document, in U.S. Na- 
tional Archives Record Croup No. 77. For an account 
of Anglo-American efforts to control world uranium 
and thorium supplies, see Martin J. Sherwin, A 
World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and the Grand 
Alliance. (New York: Alfred A. Knopr, 1975), 
pp. 104-105. 


"John n Redick, "Nuclear Proliferation 
America. ' p. 7 (unpublished manuscript) . 


desire." 34 Twenty months later. Richter 
was suddenly fired and jailed when Argen- 
tine scientists found that he was experiment- 
ing with gas discharges using high-voltage 
capacitors, an activity not unrelated to fu- 
sion research but falling far short of his 

A Secret Deal 

These strange experiments in the south of 
Argentina may have led to a much more 
serious effort by Brazil to obtain German 
nuclear technology during the postwar allied 
military occupation. In 1953. Admiral Al- 
varo Alberto, the first president of Brazil's 
National Research Council, visited Germany 
and met with Paul Haarteck, Otto Hahn, 
and Wilhelm Groth, scientists who had 
played key roles in the abortive Nazi atom 
bomb projects. According to a recently pub- 
lished report, Groth, who pioneered the cen- 
trifugal enrichment process, told Alberto: 
"Allocate the necessary funds and we will 
make the prototypes. Then we'll all go to 
Brazil and make the equipment there." 

A secret deal was made to ship three gas 
centrifuges for uranium enrichment to Bra- 
zil. Three Brazilian chemists were sent to 
Germany for special training in the handling 
of heavy gases, while Groth quietly ordered 
components from 14 different German fac- 
tories. Alberto later told a parliamentary in- 
quiry that "Germany was a country occu- 
pied by the victorious powers, and if it were 
discovered that they were planning to pro- 
duce enriched uranium, this would lead to 
an international crisis." 

The secret was uncovered only when the 
centrifuges were ready for shipment. After 
the machines were seized on orders from 
James Conant, U.S. high commissioner to 
Germany, the Brazilian government then 
turned to France in an attempt to obtain 
gaseous diffusion technology, again unsuc- 
cessfully. In a confidential memorandum to 

Brazil's national security council, the U.S. 
embassy in Rio "frankly" observed, that 
this "German adventure in Brazil . . . could 
be considered as a potential threat to the 
security of the United States and the Wes- 
tern Hemisphere." 35 The embassy also urged 
Alberto's dismissal, warning that "the sub- 
ject of atomic energy is and may continue to 
effect [sic] the political and economic rela- 
tions between Brazil and the United 
States." 30 Alberto, now a national hero and 
a pioneer of Brazil's shrewd policy of "spe- 
cific compensation" (trading natural re- 
sources for technology), resigned his post in 
frustration in 1955. 

The nuclear programs of Brazil and Ar- 
gentina accelerated after 1955, when both 
countries signed agreements with the United 
States under the "Atoms for Peace" pro- 
gram, making available newly declassified 
scientific information and providing for the 
training of nuclear scientists and technicians. 
While Brazil obtained her first research reac- 
tors under this program, Argentina stead- 
fastly pursued an independent nuclear devel- 
opment policy to avoid international con- 
trols where possible and dependence on the 
virtual U.S. monopoly over supplies of en- 
riched uranium. 

Argentina Moves Ahead 

With her own uranium reserves, a large 
pool of trained manpower, and a relatively 
advanced industrial base, Argentina soon 
moved well ahead of other Latin American 
nations in developing a nuclear energy pro- 
gram. In 1958, Argentina became the first 
Latin American nation to operate a research 
reactor. In 1968, her CNEA began operating 
the region's first, and so far only, chemical 

" While U.S. official documents concerning this epi- 
sode ace still classified, Portuguese tcanslations of them 
have been published repeatedly in Brazil over the past 
two decades. 1 am quoting here from the texts trans- 
lated in Judre: Tdvora, Atomos para o Brasil (Rio de 
Janeiro: Jose Clympio. 1958), p. 347. 

11 Text of press conference in La Nacion, March 25, 
1951, p. I. 

" The English original is quoted in Uoniz Bandeira. 
Prcsenca dos Estados Unidos no Brasil (Rio de Janei- 
ro: Ctvilazacao Brastleira, 1973), p. 369n. 


processing plant — on a pilot scale — for re- 
claiming plutonium from spent reactor fuel, 
and in 1974 Argentina started up Latin 
America's first nuclear power plant. 37 

"The CNEA in 1957 made a fundamental 
decision: not to import research reactors but 
to build them in Argentina," the CNEA sci- 
entist Jorge Sabato wrote in a detailed ac- 
count of Argentina's progress. "In this way 
we would not only have, in these reactors, a 
tool for training and research, but their con- 
struction would also allow us to develop our 
own capacity for nuclear engineering. . . . 
In 195 7, the CNEA also decided not to im- 
port fuels. These should be manufactured in 
Argentina. And so it (gradually) occurred. 
The development of our own nuclear engi- 
neering capacity was very important in the 
realization of our own feasibility study for 
Atucha I," 38 the 320 megawatt power 
plant, fueled with natural uranium, that 
went into operation in 1974 near Buenos 
Aires. By the early 1970s Argentina was 
operating six major centers for nuclear re- 
search and many of her scientists and engi- 
neers had received advanced training in the 
United States and Europe. 

Argentina's nuclear program was devel- 
oping so rapidly that the twelfth Pugwash 
Conference meeting in the Soviet Union in 
1969 was told that Argentina was mobiliz- 
ing her physicists to produce nuclear weap- 
ons within 15 years. 39 

In February 1968, the CNEA announced 
that it had chosen Siemens of West Ger- 
many from among 17 bidders from five na- 
tions to build the Atucha I nuclear power 
plant. Although U.S. suppliers had under- 
bid the Germans, CNEA's choice of a system 
using natural uranium, rather than the en- 

" Robert Gillette, "India and Argentina: Developing a 
Nuclear Affinity," Science. June 28, 1974. p. 1351. 

" Jorge Sabato, " Energia Atomica en Argentina," Es- 
tudios Internacionales. October -December 1968 
p. 342. 

riched uranium fuel of U.S. -designed reac- 
tors, enabled the Argentines to employ their 
own uranium reserves and to do so without 
obligatory international controls. 

Explaining Argentina's rejection of the 
U.S. bids, Sabato wrote that "the funda- 
mental disadvantages of the enriched urani- 
um design is that at the moment only one 
country (the United States) provides com- 
mercial uranium enrichment." Natural ura- 
nium reactors also have a military advantage 
over enriched uranium reactors: They are 
especially prolific in producing weapons- 
grade plutonium that can be separated chem- 
ically from spent fuel. Natural uranium re- 
actors also are designed for frequent and easy 
replacement of fuel rods while the reactor is 
running, not feasible in enriched uranium 
plants, making inspection against secret di- 
version of plutonium for weapons produc- 
tion much more difficult. 

The military implications of Argentina's 
decision to build a natural uranium power 
plant were not lost on the Brazilians. Early 
in 1974, while Atucha I was being- readied 
for operation, a nuclear engineer published 
an article in Brazil's official military journal 
that has been widely and repeatedly quoted 
in the Argentine press. It said: 

The Brazilian people need to be proud of 
their country for other, more serious rea- 
sons than football and carnival. Interna- 
tional prestige is, evidently, a national 
objective. . . . The relationship between 
Security and Development is very well 
known. Undeniably, it will be impossible 
to be a power without the required mili- 
tary protection. A simple agreement like 
Itaipii would be impossible if one of our 
neighbors had 20 kilos of plutonium. 40 

The Argentines, meanwhile, have become 
deeply concerned over Itaipii, the world's 
largest hydroelectric dam, which the Brazil- 
ians are building, with some Paraguayan 
assistance, on the border of the two coun- 

' Walter Sullivan. "Pugwash Parley in Sochi Told of 
Argentina's Nuclear Plans." The New York Times 
October 27, . 969. p. ly. 

" Elve Montiero de Cas'.ro, "A Energia Nuclear no 
Brastl." A Dcfcsa Nacional, January February, 1974, 
p. 63. 


tries. Itaipu is only about 10 miles north of 
the Argentine frontier in a region that, over 
the centuries, has been a theater of recurrent 
geopolitical rivalries, first between the Span- 
ish and Portuguese empires and later between 
Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. 

The dam has become a symbol in Argen- 
tina of Brazilian penetration and domina- 
tion in areas of the continent where Argen- 
tina used to have great influence. Argentina 
opposed the Itaipu dam on grounds of en- 
vironmental impact and international law, 
and has mustered majority support for her 
position at recent international conferences, 
but that has not affected the progress of the 

The NPT 

Argentina and Brazil refused to sign or 
ratify The Treaty on Non- Proliferation of 
Nuclear Weapons (NPT) on similar 
grounds. During the 1968 U.N. debate on 
the proposed NPT treaty, Argentina said she 
"cannot accept remaining subordinate to a 
continuing dependence on the great powers 
in nuclear technology for peaceful ends, es- 
pecially when our country has laid the foun- 
dations for a nuclear technology needed for 
economic development." Coining a phrase 
that was subsequently heard often in the nu- 
clear proliferation debates, the Argentine 
delegate said the NPT would "disarm the un- 
armed" while imposing no restrictions on 
the superpowers' arms race. 41 The Brazilians 
have seen the NPT as an attempt to "freeze" 
the international power structure to contain 
emergent powers such as Brazil. 

Shortly after taking office, President Ar- 
thur da Costa e Silva argued: "The develop- 
ment of scientific research in the field of 
nuclear energy includes, inevitably, at a cer- 
tain stage, the use of explosions; to veto 
access to the use of explosions would be 
equivalent to impeding the development of 

the peaceful uses of nuclear energy."* 2 In 
December 1967, as Argentina's CNEA was 
preparing to announce its final decision on 
the design and contract for Atucha I, Costa 
e Silva approved a National Security Coun- 
cil report that recommended, as permanent 
objectives, "transfer of nuclear technology 
to our country; obtaining in the shortest 
time our independence in the production of 
nuclear fuels; creation of an infrastructure of 
support for the nuclear program; and forma- 
tion and training of teams competent in the 
different (specialized) areas." 43 In 1967, 
Brazil's National Council for Nuclear En- 
ergy (CNEN) commissioned a study of the 
feasibility of building an atom bomb, con- 
cluding that such a project, if attempted, 
would take 1 5 years. 44 

Brazil's Nuclear Development 

Brazil's nuclear development had been 
slowed by a number of false starts. At the 
end of the 1950s, President Juscelino Kubit- 
schek (1956-1961) had decided on con- 
struction of a 150-200 megawatt power re- 
actor using enriched uranium following the 
U.S. model that dominates the industry 
today. In 1961, however, the seven-month 
government of President Janio Quadros, in 
developing its independent foreign policy, 
reversed these plans and opted for a natural 
uranium reactor along the lines of the first 
reactors then being developed in France. 
This project continued under President 
Joao Goulart (1961-1964) as Brazilian 
technicians went to France for training and 
French nuclear engineers went to Brazil to 
begin preparations for construction of the 

" Quoted in James W. Roive, "Science and Politics in 
Brazil," in Kalman H. Silvect (ed.) The Social Real- 
ity of Scientific Myth (New York: American Univer- 
sities Field Staff, 1969), p. 91. 

"Quoted in "Politico Nuclear: Os projetos, as alter- 
nativas e o misterio," Visao, September 9, 1974, 
p. 25. 

" Jose Maria Ruda, "La posicion argenttna en tujnfo 
al Tratado sobre la No Proliferation de las Armas 
Nucleares," Estrategia. September- December 1970, 
January February 197 1, p. 79. 

"//. Jon Rosenbaum, "Brazil's Nuclear Aspirations." 
in Onkar Marwah an Schulz (td.). Nuclear Prolifer- 
ation and the Near-Nuclear Countries (Cambridge, 
Mass.: Bollinger, 1975). 


reactor. However, this project was, in turn, 
cancelled by the military regime that seized 
power in 1964, while the French, a few 
years later, abandoned their efforts to devel- 
op a natural uranium reactor in favor of 
U.S. enriched uranium technology. 

Subsequently, Brazil seriously weighed 
the possibility of buying a Canadian Candu 
natural uranium reactor of the type which is 
to be used in Argentina's second nuclear 
power plant and was used in India to "cook" 
the plutonium used in the 1974 nuclear ex- 
plosion. Brazil also has repeatedly asked 
Westinghouse to help her develop a new 
technology to use her huge thorium reserves 
as reactor fuel, assisting the experiments of 
the Brazilian "Thorium Group" in Belo 
Horizonte. Westinghouse, a contractor to 
the U.S. Navy's classified research program 
to develop a reactor based on the thorium 
fuel cycle, declined Brazil's request on the 
grounds that it could not commit the re- 
sources to develop thorium technology, and 
because, as presently conceived, a power 
plant using thorium would need an initial 
charge of weapons-grade uranium, and would 
not be economically competitive. 

Yet Brazil's quest for "self-sufficiency" 
has continued, through her 1972 contract 
with Westinghouse for her first nuclear pow- 
er plant and, more importantly, through her 
giant deal with West Germany embracing 
the whole fuel cycle. 

A Decisive Step 

News of the Brazil-German deal had such 
a psychological impact in the Western Hemi- 
sphere that its main political effect may have 
been achieved long before the final details of 
the complex agreement arc worked out and 
construction begins in 1977-1978 on the 
eight-year project to build the first two 
power plants. The commanding general of 
the First Army in Rio de Janeiro said the 
nuclear accord "constitutes a decisive step 
that reinforces the country's sovereignty," 
and predicted that B'lzil would "be trans- 
formed into - ..vcat power." Foreign Min- 

ister Silveira, after signing the agreement, 
said that "Brazil has gained new techno- 
logical and political status on the world 
scene with the nuclear agreement," adding: 
"Both of our two countries must pray that 
nobody throws an atomic bomb at oui 
heads while we are working at carrying out 
these agreements. Because we won't be the 
ones to throw it." 

Argentina's present inability to check Bra- 
zil's initiative in the nuclear field parallels 
her inability to counter Brazilian geopoliti- 
cal initiatives in the interior of South Amer- 
ica, and is easily understood in view of the 
political disorder that has escalated steadily 
over the past two decades in Argentina. Un- 
der these conditions, it is not surprising that 
Argentina's own nuclear program would be 
paralyzed by her present financial difficul- 
ties. 45 In addition, many of Argentina's nu- 
clear scientists have left the country. Many 
are working now in Brazil. The former 
head of CNEA, Admiral Oscar A. Quihillalt, 
is now serving in Iran as adviser to the 
Shah's atomic energy commission at a re- 
ported monthly salary of $10,000, assisted 
by seven other Argentine specialists. 

In July 1975, the present head of CNEA 
visited Tripoli to sign a nuclear cooperation 
agreement between Argentina and Libya, 
while at home Argentina is engaged in an 
expansion of her pilot facilities for the re- 
processing of spent fuels. With reserves of 
trained manpower and critical energy sup- 
plies greater than Brazil's, Argentina's capa- 
city for maneuver can only increase if the 
new regime stabilizes the country. An ex- 
panded nuclear program would have great 
symbolic value in such a comeback. The 
Argentine military's concern about the deal 
may be contained in Estrategia's admoni- 

Given the available facts, it is possible to 
affirm that [Brazil] has taken the firm 
decision to join the Nuclear Club, that is, 

" See Mark Goyn, "No safeguards yet. Canada build- 
ing A- plant it. Argentina." Th. Toronto Star, July 
22. 1075. p. I. 


to make an atom bomb under the concept 
of peaceful uses . . . the decision to manu- 
facture the nuclear explosive and the op- 
portunity, are critical for Argentina, since 
our neighbor's nuclear device, without a 
counterpoise, will affect our Security pal- 
pably and decidedly, (emphasis in origi- 
nal) 46 

The Future 

This likely peril is being instituted by an 
ally in our backyard (while) the U.S. 
government is heavily committed in West 
Germany's backyard to defend them 
against a likely peril. ... I say of all the 
countries in the world that should not 
have done it is West Germany. . . . The 
present government in Brazil may be very 
amenable to the United States. . . . But 
we are living in a changing world where 
governments are being toppled over day 
by day. How do we know that we will 
not have another Castro in some other 
country in Latin America? Once that hap- 
pens and they have the facilities to make 
the bomb, then we have something else 
to worry about. ... I might conclude by 
saying this: If this agreement goes 
through at this time in this fashion, it 
will make a mockery of the Monroe Doc- 
trine. — John O. Past ore (D., Rhode Is- 
land), chairman of the Joint Congres- 
sional Committee on Atomic Energy, on 
the Senate floor, June 3, 1975. 

1 he senatorial thunder that greeted the 
news of the Brazil-German deal seemed to 
treat it as a kind of stab in the back from 
two of the closest postwar allies of the 
United States, as well as one more sign of 
the erosion of U.S. power and influence. 
However, an outsider might have been sur- 
prised by the strange failure to foresee these 
developments by those statesmen who pro- 
moted "Atoms for Peace" and arranged for 
this torch to be passed from one generation 
to the next. 

In January 1976, David E. Lilienthal, 
the AEC's first chairman (1947-1950), told 

"Juan E. Guglialmelli, "Y si Brasil fabrica la bomba 
atomica?" Escrategia, May-June 1975/ July- August 
1975, pp. 13-14. 

the senators that "we, the United States, our 
public agencies and our private manufactur- 
ers, have been and are the world's major 
proliferators." Not only did the United 
States let the genie out of the bottle, but 
her salesmen have proselytized the genie's 
magic powers as a "safe and cheap" source 
of energy supplies. While the Soviet Union 
has been far more responsible and cautious 
in purveying the "peaceful uses" of atomic 
energy, the U.S. government has, in the 
words of a Brookings Institution study by 
Jerome Kahan, "actively encouraged the sale 
abroad of U.S. -built reactors by providing 
extensive technical assistance, attractive fi- 
nancing through the Export-Import Bank, 
and long-term supplies of enriched fuel at 
stable prices. During this period, foreign 
firms entered into licensing arrangements 
with U.S. firms in order to acquire the ca- 
pability to produce reactors." 

In view of the results of these policies 
we might well ask, with Mark Twain, 
"Shall we go on conferring our Civilization 
upon the peoples that sit in darkness, or 
shall we give those poor things a rest? Shall 
we bang right ahead in our oldtime, loud, 
pious way, and commit the new century to 
the game; or shall we sober up and sit down 
and think it over first?" 

Problems Ahead 

There are problems ahead at every level 
— technical, strategic, political, and moral. 
Apart from the military potential of com- 
mercial nuclear power, the industry still 
must solve such problems as the long-term 
fuel shortage, safe disposal of large amounts 
of deadly radioactive waste materials, danger 
of terrorist theft of plutonium extracted 
from spent fuel, and rapid escalation of re- 
actor construction costs. 

As inflation and delay have raised the 
price of reactors from $300 per kilowatt of 
capacity in 1970 to $1,135 in 1975. the 
nuclear industry has been hit hard by re- 
cent cancellations of orders for at least 12 
new power plants by U.S. utilities and post- 


ponement of 133 more. Consequently, there 
are pressures for increased government sub- 
sidies, which is a hallowed tradition in the 
nuclear industry throughout the world. 

At the same time, enormous capital in- 
vestments will be required for the next 
phases of development of the U.S. nuclear 
industry, anticipated for the late 1970s. 
These would be the expansion of enrich- 
ment capacity and large-scale separation of 
plutonium from spent fuel rods to obtain 
additional reactor fuel. These new phases of 
the industry's development involve phys- 
ical as well as financial risks that are be- 
coming the focus of intense political debate. 

". . . it would be worth consider- 
ing restructuring the international 
industry into a single cartel-con- 
sortium of producing governments 
using a standardized reactor tech- 
nology. . . ." 

The Ford Administration has proposed 
federal guarantees of up to $8 billion for 
construction of uranium enrichment plants 
by private industry. The leading candidate 
for a franchise and guarantee for commer- 
cial use of this highly classified technology, 
presently restricted to a government mo- 
nopoly, is Uranium Enrichment Associates 
(UEA), a consortium organized by Bechtel 
of San Francisco, the world's largest private 
engineering firm and a specialist in construc- 
tion of nuclear power plants. In recent years, 
Bechtel has hired two former Nixon cabinet 
members, George Schultz and Casper Wein- 
berger, as well as Robert Hollingsworth, a 
former AEC general manager. 

Bechtel's salesmanship in the nuclear field 
led to one of the more picturesque diplo- 
matic episodes to emerge from the Brazil- 
German deal. In April 1975, four State 
Department officials made a trip to Bonn, 
where they tried to persuade the Germans 
that enrichment technology should not b(. 
sold to Brazil because of the proUfera'ioi' 

danger. Upon their return they learned that 
Bechtel had offered Brazil the same kind of 
technology two weeks before in a last-ditch 
effort to stop the German deal. 

In a letter to Brazilian Minister of Mines 
and Energy Shigeaki Ueki, dated March 21, 
1975, a Bechtel executive had written: 
"There has been a most recent decision by 
the Energy Research and Development Ad- 
ministration [(ERDA) a successor agency to 
the disbanded AEC] to encourage UEA to 
seek potential sites for enrichment plants 
outside the U.S.A. One of the locations 
which is most promising is Brazil, with the 
abundant hydro potential in the Amazon 
Basin." Because of ERDA's support, the 
Bechtel letter added. UEA "can offer Brazil 
the entire gamut from development of the 
mine, ore processing, enrichment, fuel pro- 
cessing, through the design of and construc- 
tion of the nuclear power plants them- 

Because enrichment activities are confined 
by U.S. law to a government monopoly 
operating within the country, and exporta- 
tion of classified technology is prohibited, 
the Brazilians previously had been turned 
down in repeated efforts to get U.S. help 
in developing their own enrichment capac- 
ity. Under State Department pressure, Bech- 
tel withdrew its offer three weeks later, in- 
forming the Brazilians in a letter that "it 
develops that within some United States 
circles there has been some concern about 

In view of the enormous government 
subsidies given, one way or another, to pri- 
vate nuclear energy companies in industrial- 
ized countries, the Brazil-German deal 
shows that "businesslike" competition be- 
tween these subsidized national companies 
really amounts to competition between the 
national governments themselves in a highly 
dangerous sphere of activity. Because of the 
military potential of the "peaceful" uses of 
atomic energy, many developing countries 
are lured into ordering nuclear power plants 
they cannot afford, which w ;, i Ir^d tc heavy 


downstream losses for the already hard- 
pressed international reactor industry. On 
the other hand, the desperate need to sell 
reactors will lead each manufacturer to sat- 
isfy clients' demands for "sweeteners" that 
can be used in weapons making, such as en- 
richment and reprocessing plants. This will 
turn each sale into an act of political and 
diplomatic significance for the client and his 
neighbors and, in effect, what may be re- 
garded as a military alliance between buyer 
and seller, lasting at least as long — perhaps 
a decade or two — as the time needed for the 
facilities to be built and the manufacturer 
paid off. 

In response to the Brazil -German deal, 
the U.S. proposed a standardization of the 
conditions of export sales of nuclear power 
plants. Foreigners viewed this initiative 
coolly. They saw it as a maneuver to deny 
them their first big chance to enter the in- 
ternational reactor business, and to preserve 
the commanding U.S. position in the field. 

At the "Secret Seven" meetings in Lon- 
don of supplier nations, the United States 
sought agreement on prohibition of the ex- 
port of reprocessing plants, except under 
rigidly prescribed conditions. However, U.S. 
sources later said that France and West Ger- 
many would agree only to consultations and 
safeguards inspection agreements before ex- 
porting sensitive equipment and materials. 
This would have the effect of fabricating a 
paper umbrella of unenforceable guarantees 
as a license to create a series of dangerous de 
facto situations throughout the world. 

Who Owns Nuclear Technology? 

Because of the fuzzy economics of the 
nuclear industry and its dear military po- 
tential, the illusion that these companies can 
be run as a "business" may soon evaporate. 
More and more questions will be raised 
about the wisdom of parceling out to com- 
peting sets of corporate executives a costly 
technology, developed at public expense, 
that owes its origin, ?nd most proven use, 
to achievements in destruction and terror. 

Apart from the bomb itself, the electric- 
ity-generating reactor was first developed for 
military purposes in the U.S. Navy's atom- 
ic submarine program. The submarine re- 
actor was then "scaled up" to generate elec- 
tricity commercially by Westinghouse and 
GE with research and development funds 
provided by the AEC. To the degree that 
further development of commercial nuclear 
energy is justified to prevent the collapse of 
industrial society, then much more rigid 
controls should be imposed to restrain the 
economic and military anomalies, which are 
in the nature of the beast, from getting out 
of hand. 

Rather than continue to stimulate "free" 
competition in the nuclear industry, it would 
be worth considering restructuring the in- 
ternational industry into a single cartel-con- 
sortium of producing governments using a 
standardized reactor technology to minimize 
diversion of materials for weapons purposes, 
licensing technology and exporting power 
plants only under the strictest nonprolifer- 
ation controls. The standardization of reac- 
tor technology, in addition, could signif- 
icantly reduce costs. 

Brazil's Energy Options 

While Brazilian officials have spoken of 
building 63 nuclear power plants by the 
turn of the century, the deal with West 
Germany contains firm orders for only two 
reactors. The size of the initial commitment 
may reflect some uncertainty about the 
growth rate of Brazil's future energy de- 
mand and about the performance of the 
German contractors. But the real issue is 
Brazil's capacity to pay for per capita energy 
consumption approaching the level of the 
developed nations. 

Brazil's impressive postwar growth was 
intimately related to the expansion of the 
world economy and the low price of oil, 
especially in the 1960s and early 1970s. 
The Cinderella Year of the Brazilian "mu 
ade" was 1973, when the national product 
grew by 11.4 per cent. Imports, exports, 


and the internal money supply all grew by 
half and oil imports by 46 per cent in that 
one year. 47 The 1973 Middle East war sig- 
naled an abrupt slowdown in this expan- 
sion. Over the previous generation Brazil's 
energy budget had quadrupled, while shift- 
ing from a wood-burning to a predominant- 
ly oil-burning and hydroelectric economy. 
But even with this growth, Brazil's per 
capita consumption of commercial energy, 
while 60 per cent greater than the devel- 
oping countries as a whole, was less than 
one-third of the world average and one- 
tenth that of the industrialized nations. 48 
Petroleum imports created roughly half the 
cumulative current account deficit of $14 
billion that Brazil incurred in 1974-1975. 
Present plans call for Brazil to spend around 
$65 billion through 1985 to develop her 
own energy resources — mainly offshore oil 
and hydroelectric and nuclear power, but 
also including shale, coal, and various forms 
of solar energy. This $65 billion is roughly 
equivalent to her whole national product 
for the Cinderella Year of 1973. 

One of the ironies paving Brazil's new 
nuclear road is that Brazil could easily be- 
come a theater of major technological break- 
throughs in using nonconventional energy 
sources, especially solar energy. Apart from 
the fact that her deposits of oil-bearing 
shale are second in size only to those of the 
United States, Brazil is in an excellent po- 
sition to use photosynthetic transformation 
of solar energy to produce liquid and gas- 
eous fuels, such as alcohol, methane, and 
hydrogen, which are both light and easily 

Brazil already has adopted a plan to mix 
alcohol and gasoline to run her automobiles, 
which she did three decades ago during the 
World War II shortages, and is developing 
a car engine fueled entirely by alcohol. The 
alcohol would come from sugar cane or from 

Petrobras Annual Report, 1973, p. 29. 

new plantations of cassava on soils of low 
fertility occupying just 1 per cent of Brazil's 
total area to meet the country's fuel needs. 
Some scientists now view the Amazon jun- 
gle, with the high density and humidity of 
its vegetation, as one of the world's most 
efficient natural systems for conversion of 
photosynthetic energy. They calculate that 
the Amazon biomass might be industrially 
converted into methane at costs competitive 
with today's oil prices. 

Such innovations could be extremely 
beneficial and could be the focus of inter- 
national support and cooperation. In an 
editorial written shortly after the Brazil- 
German deal was signed, Science magazine 
observed : 

It is to be hoped that in solving its own 
energy problems Brazil will come to 
choose to exert world leadership not in 
facilitating nuclear proliferation but in 
providing the tropical countries with ex- 
amples of how best to harvest and utilize 
solar energy. 49 

Whose Responsibility.'' 

The centrifugal forces operating in the 
international nuclear energy industry, which 
have made it possible for Brazil to become 
a vessel of nuclear proliferation and Argen- 
tine scientists to become roving agents of 
the same process, can only be checked if 
governments assume direct responsibility for 
the industry. The salesman's vision of com- 
mercial nuclear energy as a boon to man- 
kind and, he hopes, to corporate profits must 
be discarded in favor of a view of nuclear 
power as a dangerous but necessary device 
to be used with great caution. 

Since the U.S. government funded the 
research and development effort for com- 
mercial applications of nuclear power by 
American reactor manufacturers, who then 
transferred this technology under license to 
government-subsidized companies in Europe 
and Japan, these governments have a re- 

" World Energy Supplies: 1970-73. Unite: Nations 
Statistical Papers Series J. No. 1* '• >T> « 10, 

" Philip H. Abelson, "Enerc" Mternu'ives for Brazil." 
Science, August 8. 1975. 


sponsibility for the "business" of nuclear 
energy. Indeed, the developing countries sin- 
gled out by disarmament specialists as being 
in the "near-nuclear" class and acquiring 
nuclear technology with clear miliary poten- 
tial — South Korpa. Taiwan, Brazil, and Ar- 
gentina — are the same ones to which the 
big U.S. and European private banks are 
most heavily overcommitted with shaky 
loans. 50 

Not only does this imply a Western sub- 
sidy to these countries of the huge expense 
of acquiring nuclear power under very loose 
terms in the past and present, it also means, 
for the future, an important source of po- 
tential leverage for financial as well as tech- 
nological restrictions on nuclear prolifer- 

Disarmament specialists argue, with rea- 
son, that controls on "horizontal" nuclear 
proliferation need the moral sanction that 
can only be supplied by controls on the 
"vertical" proliferation of the nuclear arms 
race between the superpowers. However, as 
a practical matter, the present structure of 
the international nuclear industry still makes 
it possible for "horizontal" proliferation to 
be controlled by the Western governments 

Curiously, while the moral claim of de- 
veloping countries for access to "peaceful" 
nuclear technology has its main juridical 
support in Article IV of the NPT, it is the 
nonsigners of the NPT, who exhibited weap- 
on-making intentions or capacity, that aie 
benefiting most from transfers of "peace- 
ful" nuclear technology, often under con- 
cessionary or giveway financial terms. 

The pressures to export nuclear technol- 
ogy are expected to escalate rapidly in com- 
ing years. Inflation, construction delays, and 
the mounting impact of suspensions and 
cancellations of reactor orders are rapidly 
shrinking the home markets for nuclear 
power plants in the principal industrialized 

In 1975, Westinghouse and GE each still 
had a share of the world market almost as 
large as all other producers combined. How- 
ever, U.S. domestic orders for nuclear plants 
peaked in 1972-1973. Even before the sus- 
pensions and cancellations of rhe pasr ypar 
struck the industry, U.S. companies were 
capable of producing annually almost four 
times as many reactor pressure vessels and 
turbine-generator units as the United States 
would need in 1977. 

At this critical moment, Germany emerged 
as a major competitor in the international 
nuclear market. Looking over its shoulder 
to the expected entry of French, Swedish, 
and Japanese competitors into the crowded 
and unstable world market, KWU is being 
driven to grab as many orders as it can be- 
fore the competition becomes even more 
fierce and disorderly. 

While Bonn's handling of the Brazil deal 
initially received virtually unanimous sup- 
port from the German public in the face of 
U.S. criticism, some voices subsequently 
have been raised in West Germany to ex- 
press concern for some of the deal's impli- 
cations. "It may be that global expansion of 
the technology necessary for putting togeth- 
er bombs can no longer be prevented, that 
in the evil competition for nuclear customers 
the level of prohibition necessarily drops 
ever lower," Der Spiegel observed. 51 "But 
must the Federal Republic play the role of 
advance guard?" Karl Kaiser of the German 
Society for Foreign Policy, an adviser to the 
ruling Social Democrats, wrote in Eucopa 
Archiv : 

On the commercial side of nuclear energy 
expansion we must ask ourselves whether 
the former policy of unrestricted nuclear 
know-how and power stations to devel- 
oping countries should be pursued in the 

If the international nuclear industry is to 
maintain its present scale of operations, gov- 
ernment subsidies may have to increase rad- 

* See Ann Crittenden, "Loans Abroad Stir Worry," 
The New York Times. January 15, 1976, p. /. 

Der Spiegel, March 15, 197 6, p. 73. 


ically and competition may become much 
dirtier. Too much money already has been 
invested in nuclear energy, and too many 
specialized careers have been developed by 
talented and well-paid technicians, for the 
industry, by itself, to accord anything but 
secondary priority to the security implica- 
tions of its activities. Placed beside these 
economic stakes, the besieged industry seems 
to regard the prospect of local nuclear wars 
or accidents as small potatoes. 

Ironically, the world has begun to forget 
the horror of smaller nuclear weapons. Lead- 
ers of developing nations widely regard 
them as symbols and instruments of power, 
forgetting that the military advantage of 
their possession, as well as the economic in- 
vestment in their development, can be nul- 
lified rapidly by proliferation. The main 
strategic advantage of nuclear weapons lies 
in long-distance strikes requiring an elab- 
orate delivery capability. In local nuclear 
wars between neighbors, neither party may 
escape without massive, lasting damage. A 
high U.S. official involved in the London 
negotiations among supplier countries re- 
cently remarked that the spread of nuclear 
weapons potential throughout the world, 
unfortunately, may not be stopped until the 
next city is destroyed. By that time, how- 
ever, the spread of this destructive capability 
may be so extensive that efforts at control 
may no longer be possible. 

In terms of both economic and military 
potential, the world is rapidly approaching 
a no-win situation in the development of 
commercial nuclear power. It is so burdened 
by inflation, capital shortages, political con- 
troversy, and uncertainties over future fuel 
supplies that, in the United States, Science 
magazine could recently observe: "The nu- 
clear industry is in such trouble that many 
people are saying, with some truth, that a 
de facto moratorium on future nuclear de- 
velopment already exists." ■'■- If this paralysis 

persists in the U.S. industry, it could spread 
to nuclear energy enterprises in other indus- 
trialized countries, which are experiencing 
comparable problems of their own. The in- 
ternational reactor industry would then be 
faced with a clear choice between subsidiz- 
ing — i.e., giving away — exports of nuclear 
power plants to developing countries on an 
even greater scale than in the past in order 
to sustain industrial capacity at home, or 
scaling down the nuclear energy enterprise 
to much more manageable proportions. 

In this connection, the liberal Die Zeit, 
in its defense of the Brazil-German deal, 
made two important observations. The first 
was: "The deceptive distinction between 
nuclear technology for 'peaceful' and for 
'military' uses lies at the core of the non- 
proliferation policies. In reality this dividing 
line is almost irrelevant. Whoever achieves 
a high level of civilian technology is almost 
automatically on the threshhold of manu- 
facture of nuclear weapons." 53 The second 
was a suggestion that, "if America were to 
dismount from its high horse of nuclear 
monopoly rights," i.e., the dominant U.S. 
market position, then a step toward closer 
integration of the industry's goals could be 
taken through formation of a "loose con- 
federation" of supplier countries that could 
be known as "NUTEX" (Nuclear Technol- 
ogy Exporters) . 

This idea is similar to the more recent 
proposal by Senator Ribicoff for "a cooper- 
ative arrangement with other suppliers, in- 
cluding France and West Germany, that 
will guarantee each supplier a minimum 
market share of reactor exports." 54 Such an 
arrangement might be organized along the 
lines of Atomic Energy of Canada, Limited 
(AECL), the government company that acts 
as general contractor for the Candu reactor 
and parcels out business to the various com- 
ponent manufacturers. 

Luther J. Carter, "Energy Policy: Independence '-y 
1985 May be Unreachable Without Btu T < x . S. i- 
ence. February H, 1976. p. 548 

''Joachim Schivelein, "Heisses Geschaft mit dem At- 
omstrom," Die Zeit. June 27, 1975. 

" Abraham A. Ribicoff, "Tradinq in Doom," The 
New York Times. March 26. 197*. 


While this might require the United 
States to yield a larger share of the inter- 
national reactor market to other countries, 
it could bring the compensating advantage 
of heading off the kind of trade wars that 
could lead to nuclear wars. It could promote 
sharing of the financial burdens of such 
costly undertaking as enrichment, research, 
and development, and the production of 
specialized components. It also could end 
the plague of "loss leader" giveaways of 
nuclear exports by establishing financial, 
technological, and safeguards standards for 
all sales and by placing final control of 
these transactions in the hands of an inter- 

national directorate run by governments, 
which is where the responsibility belongs. 
The reactor export industry should become 
an international public utility. 

The fact that the international commu- 
nity has been able to stop the use of certain 
chemical and biological weapons for more 
than a half-century offers hope that con- 
certed action can still manage the nuclear 
trade. Any additional cost incurred by this 
kind of management would be the price of 
peace. The failure to pay this price may 
mean infinitely greater costs further down 
the road. 


(by Sarah Glazer) 

Why would the leader 
of a nation that produces 30 tons of oil 
per inhabitant each year want to buy a 
nuclear power plant that is certain to be 
obsolete long before his country's oil 
reserves are gone? 

That was the question posed in March 
when France agreed to sell a 600-mega- 
watt reactor to Col. Muammar Qaddafi! 
of Libya. Although Libya's Col. Qaddafi 
has an established reputation for erratic" 
behavior - Major Meheishi, a former 
colleague, traces Qaddafi's eccentricity 
to a childhood fall from a camel - 
Qaddafi's purchase makes sense if he 
is interested in developing his country's 
nuclear weapon-making capacity. 

Ever since India's nuclear explosion 
in 1974 - using plutonium from a Cana- 
dian-supplied research reactor - worried ' 
observers have questioned the motivation 
of any country in the market for nuclear 
reactors. Unfortunately, however, exist- 
ing controls on the flow of nuclear 
materials out of the U.S. and into third 
world countries are threatened by 
intense competition in the international 

"The most willing and able customers 
for nuclear power are nations which 
have military-dominated economies 
geared toward rivalries with their neigh- 
bors," Bob Alvarez of the Environmental 
Policy Center in Washington, D.C 

believes. As examples, Alvarez cites the 
rivalries between such nuclear power 
customers as India and Pakistan, Brazil 
and Argentine, and Iran and the Soviet 

The ordinary, lightly enriched ura- 
nium fuel used by most reactors is not 
suitable for weapons. Highly enriched 
uranium or plutonium is necessary to 
make the simple nuclear bombs that are 
within the technical capability of under- 
developed nations. Although plutonium 
is produced as a byproduct of fission, it 
remains in a mixed oxide form and is 
practically impossible to isolate from 
spent fuel without a reprocessing plant. 
The U.S., which has traditionally 
refused to supply enrichment and 
reprocessing technologies to its nuclear 
reactor customers, now finds itself in 
an unfavorable position. West Germany 
undercut the U.S. in a contract with 
Brazil for an ambitious nuclear power 
program including power plants and en- 
richment. France is working on a similar 
deal with Pakistan. Iran recently awarded 
West German manufacturers a multi- 
billion-dollar contract to build its first 
two nuclear power stations; American 
manufacturers lost out on the deal 
over negotiations on a guarantee for en- 
riched fuel. West Germany promised the 
guarantee and held out the possibility of 
future enrichment technology. 

Glazer, Sarah. The Nuclear Marketplace: Let 
Everybody Beware. In Environmental Action , 
July 31/ 1976, pp. 9-11. Copyright raterial 
reproduced with permission of copyright holder 


Ihe effect of such sales 
merely intensifies pressures on the U.S. 
government to lift all controls on nuclear 
exports at a time when the need for 
them is more evident than ever before. 
Experts agree that the safeguards 
imposed by the international watchdog 
agency, the International Atomic 
Energy Agency (IAEA), are inadequate. 
The agency has few inspectors (fewer 
that 100 for almost 400 facilities in 
1975) and exerts no physical control 
over the nuclear material. 

The agency also suffers from a split 
personality. Like the now-dismembered 
Atomic Energy Commission, IAEA both 
promotes nuclear energy and safeguards 
it. With the same lopsided approach as 
AEC's, less than one-fifth of the agency's 
international budget goes for inspection. 
The rest is spent on promoting nuclear 

Even if international inspectors were 
to discover a stockpile of separated 
plutonium, the owner of the material 
could easily convert it into a nuclear 
bomb in only days. In such cases, the 
IAEA may be a "burglar alarm, but not 
a lock," as Fred Ikle, director of the 
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 
puts it. 

Meanwhile, the number of nuclear 
reactors is expected to quadruple to 
800 by the end of the decade. By 1990, 
the developing world alone will produce 
30,000 pounds of plutonium annually — 
or enough for 3000 small atomic bombs. 
Plutonium is also acknowledged as the 
most toxic substance known. As little as 
one. molecule may produce lung cancer 
when inhaled. 


'o the developing coun- 
tries really need nuclear power? Many 
environmentalists insist they do not. 

"Nuclear energy is very inappropriate : 
to use in most of these developing ' 
countries," Bob Augustine of National 
Intervenors has concluded. Since reactors 
are produced in uniform, large sizes, he 
points out, a small country may become 

dependent on one reactor for as much 
as 60 percent of its energy. If the reactor 
breaks down the effect on the economy 
can be catastrophic. 

Augustine proposes that the U.S. 
export instead small-scale wind- or 
hydro-energy sources designed for 
individual villages or neighborhoods. A 
report released by^the Energy Research 
and Development Administration 
(ERDA) last year concludes that most 
developing countries will purchase little 
nuclear power in the next 15 years. 
Food shortages in these countries will 
require light, agricultural technology 
rather than the heavy, capital-intensive 
industry for which nuclear power is 
appropriate. Nuclear reactors require 
heavy financial investments and highly 
trained manpower, a burden most devel- 
oping countries cannot assume. Conven- 
tional energy sources will probably be 
more attractive to such nations than 
nuclear power, the report predicts. 

One of the most significant factors 
in the international race to sell reactors 
involves declining sales at home. In 
1973, the American nuclear industry 
received 36 orders to build nuclear 
reactors in this country. By 1975 orders 
had plummetted to seven. Not sur- 
prisingly, then, the American manufact- 
urers are setting their sights on foreign 
markets. German and French manufact- 
urers, finding their domestic markets 
shrinking as well, are also scrambling for 
the remaining nuclear customers. 

JJefore shedding tears 
over the plight of the American nuclear 
industry, however, it is important to 
take into account U.S. corporations' 
multinational control over the nuclear 

Four American-based multinational 
firms fill over 70 percent of the total 
world orders for nuclear reactors, 
according to ERDA. The giants are 
General Electric, Westinghouse, Bab- 
cock & Wilcox and Combustion Engin- 
eering. The entire "competition," except 

37-189 O - 79 - 14 


for Sweden, has direct relationships with 
these four firms through licensing, sub- 
sidiaries or shareholding arrangements. 

So those dramatic fights between 
nations for nuclear contracts often boil 
down to the fact that no matter what 
the outcome, a U.S. -based company is 
providing the parts and technology. 

Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd., for 
example, does no manufacturing of its 
own, but contracts out to American 
companies and their subsidiaries in 
Canada to build most of the materials 
used in the company's reactors. West 
Germany's Kraftwerk Union A.F., 
which beat the U.S. out of the contract 
with Iran, uses both General Electric 
and Westinghouse designs. France's two 
reactor suppliers rely entirely on U.S. 
technology: Westinghouse controls 15 
percent ownership in the French firm 
Fromatome, while the other company, 
SOGERCA, operates under a General 
Electric license with most of its reactors 
produced in the U.S. 

This situation has a number of inter- 
esting implications. 

Members of Congress have proposed, 
for example, that the U.S. refuse to do 
nuclear business with nations that won't 
sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treat 
Treaty (NPT). (Among the 41 nations 
who have refused to sign the treaty are 
those suspected of wanting to be nuclear 
powers: Brazil, India, Pakistan, Israel 
and South Africa.) But even if the U.S. 
were to stop selling reactors officially to 
non-NPT countries, American subsidiar- 
ies in other supplier contries could still 
produce nuclear equipment for off-limits 


>oth opponents and 
supporters of nuclear energy are putting 
pressure on Congress and the Admini- 
stration to tighten controls internation- 
ally over the availability of potential 
weapons materials. Sen. Abraham Ribi- 
coff (D-Conn.) and others have proposed 
that the supplier countries cooperate in 
sending spent fuel to multinational en- 

richment centers, thus removing poten- 
tial weapons from buyer nations. The 
U.S. could threaten to cut off the sale 
of enriched uranium to France and West 
Germany if they oppose this plan, Ribi- 
coff has suggested, since both nations 
are expected to be dependent on our 
fuel until they develop their own enrich- 
ment plants in the early 1980s. 

Environmentalists like Augustine and 
Alvarez call the proposals for improved 
safeguards a lot of "baloney." They 
favor a complete embargo on the export 
of all nuclear technology, coupled with 
economic sanctions on supplier countries 
that receive U.S. loans. The embargo, 
they urge, should be followed by inter- 
national agreements to stop nuclear 
proliferation. The fear of "impending 
disaster" led former Atomic Energy 
Commission Chairman David Lillienthal 
to take the same position on a complete 
embargo earlier this year. 

Concern has even seeped into the 
very heart of the government's nuclear 
establishment, the Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission (NRC). Commissioner 
Victor Gilinsky last month issued the 
first dissent in the history of the com- 
mission, formerly a component of the 
AEC. Gilinsky opposed the sale of a 
nuclear reactor to Spain, charging that 
international safeguards were insuffi- 
cient to prevent Spain from using the 
by-product plutonium to make a bomb. 

Earlier this month, Gilinsky issued 
his second dissent on the export to India 
of about nine tons of uranium fuel. The 
reason, once again, was Gilinsky 's 
concern that plutonium produced from 
U.S. -supplied uranium will contribute to 
India's growing plutonium stockpile — 
now estimated at 1000 pounds. His 
opinion was overridden on both occa- 

A further export of about 12 tons of 
uranium is being contested by the Sierra 
Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists 
and the Natural Resources Defense 

In reaction to continual obliviousness 


by the NRC and Congress' Joint Atomic 
Energy Committee, Rep. Clarence Long 
(D-Md.) has proposed a new select com- 
mittee to oversee nuclear exports. The 
proposal is seen as a clear indictment of 
the Joint Committee, which has held 
only one hearing on nuclear prolifera- 
tion in the past five years, and which 
usually rubber stamps export proposals. 

lhe outlook for inter- 
national cooperation on the nuclear 
scene is not bright. In secret talks in 
London last year among supplier nations 
members agreed only to "exercise 

restraint" over "sensitive technologies" 
such as enrichment and reprocessing. 
European countries, with good reason, 
suspected that the U.S. was trying to 
cripple their booming nuclear industry 
by suggesting that all nations withhold 
sensitive technologies from nuclear con- 
sumers. Whether such nations can be 
stopped in their determination to enter- 
the nuclear club is doubtful. But this 
country can take a first step toward 
peace by cutting off nuclear technology 
exports, thus showing its good faith to 
our international competitors in the 
nuclear field. ■ 


A Historical Survey 

of Nonproliferation 



\Jn the second of Feb 
ruary 1939, Leo Szilard, then in New York, wrote to Frederic Joliot about the 
recent discovery of uranium fission by Otto Hahn in Berlin. In this letter he said: 

When Hahn's paper reached this country about a fortnight ago, a few of us 
got interested in the question whether neutrons are liberated in the desintegra- 
tion of uranium. Obviously if more than one neutron was liberated, a sort of 
chain reaction would be possible. In certain circumstances this might than 
lead to the construction of bombs which would be extremely dangerous in gen- 
eral and particularly in the hands of certain governments. 

The problem of nonproliferation was thus clearly defined at the outset owing 
to the remarkable insight of the scientist who some months later was responsible 
for bring the military implications of the new discovery to President Roosevelt's 

This problem has never ceased to haunt and influence the development of 
atomic energy, in the limitations or the conditions applied to the transfers of 
materials, equipments and technologies. 

Nonproliferation policies have succeeded each other and can only be judged 
in the context of the days they were proposed and adopted. They did not tail 
one after another; rather, each of them added a stone to the building of a world 
in which the increase in the number of nuclear weapon states has been much 
slower than it was feared initially, but each of them had to be abandoned 
when it did not fulfill the exaggerated hopes put forward to convince all 
countries to adhere to it. 

This paper briefly surveys these successive nonproliferation policies -their 
influence on international commerce and the reaction of the countries where 
they were applied — as seen by a Frenchman who has participated in various 
phases of the atomic adventure. 

The VVijr Policy 

Naturally, during World War II the Anglo-Saxon partners' primary aim was to 
win the nuclear race against the N'a/i regime; however they agreed not to in- 
clude the atomic field in their scientific collaboration with Soviet Russia More- 
over, only Churchill's obstinacy prevented Britain from being treated in 

Goldschmidt, Bertrand. A Historical Survey of Nonprolifer- 
ation Policies. In International Security 2, No. 1 (Sum- 
mer 1977), pp. 69-87. Copyright 1977 by the President and 
Fellows of Harvard College. 


somewhat the same way by the United States. The many difficulties between 
the two countries during the war arose primarily over competition for postwar 
industrial or commercial advantages. Cooperation was mainly limited to the 
military objective, and while British scientists participated in the weapon 
studies at Los Alamos, they were barely accepted at Oak Ridge and were barred 
from Hanford. 

The Anglo-American collaboration was defined by the Quebec agreement of 
September 1943 which is also the first nonproliferation agreement: the United 
States, Britain and Canada decided "not to communicate any information to 
third parties without mutual consent." The restrictions on transfer of technol- 
ogy from the Americans to the British specifically concerned enrichment and 
reprocessing, still considered as the most sensitive fields. However the denial of 
Anglo-Canadian access to pluronium technology engendered the launching in 
1944 in Canada of an independent research program which led to the successful 
discovery of a new method based on solvent extraction and similar in principle 
to the one universally adopted today. Such action early demonstrated the 
difficulty of monopolizing technology. 

The Secrecy Policy 

In November 1945, three months after the tragic revelation of the power of the 
new weapon, the three Anglo-Saxon allies officially adopted a comprehensive 
nonproliferation policy towards the rest of the world and in particular towards 
the Soviet Union. 

They decided not to disclose any detailed information on the practical in- 
dustrial applications of atomic energy before effective enforceable safeguards 
against its misuse could be devised, either in the form of international inspec- 
tion or otherwise. They also agreed to try to exploit or purchase for their own 
use all uranium resources available in the Western world. Taken together these 
two agreements resulted in the perfect nonproliferation policy by blocking the 
transfer to othei countries of the two indispensable technical ingredients of any 
nuclear effort — know-how and uranium. Today, however, these two ingred- 
ients are dispersed throughout the world and are easily available. Such a policy, 
as reflected in American legislation like the McMahon Act, paralyzed interna- 
tional collaboration and commerce in the nuclear field during the ten years 
following the end of the war. 

Independent of Great Britain and Canada, the United States offered the world 
a proposal for the control of this formidable new technology: the Lilienthal- 


Baruch plan (presented in 1946 at the United Nations) which based the pro- 
tection against misuse on multinational management of "dangerous facilities." 
This concept is today again put forth as an element of proliferation policy. Al- 
though the plan was unacceptable to the Soviet Union, who instead proposed the 
banning of the bomb, this pLn was as revolutionary on the political level as 
fission was on the technical level. Doubting the efficiency of international in- 
spection and renunciation pacts (methods that were nevertheless to be adopted 
ten and twenty years later), this plan advocated world government of a matter 
of paramount importance. With the failure of this proposal disappeared the last 
chance for humanity to live in a world free from nuclear weapons. 

The first Russian atomic explosion took place in 1949, much earlier than gen- 
erally expected, and it was assumed that espionage had contributed to the effort. 
The first British bomb was exploded in 1952, the same year that France decided 
to build large plutonium-producing reactors fueled from newly discovered 
domestic uranium mines. But the major shock came to Washington in 1953 
with the detection of the first Soviet thermonuclear explosion of a type not yet 
tested by the United States. It soon became evident that the Soviet Union and 
Britain had acquired the nuclear industrial technology and that France would 
follow with some delay. 

The American and British leaders were therefore suddenly confronted by the 
fact that the Soviet Union would be able to offer other countries the benefit c: 
the peaceful applications of its research; neither the United States, virtually 
paralyzed by its own laws in the field of international nuclear collaboration, 
nor Great Britain, tied to the secrecy pledge of the Quebec Agreement, could 
compete with the Soviet Union. Above all, this possible rivalry with the 
Soviet Union, as well as the search for nuclear disarmament and detente in the 
midst of the cold war, were responsible for the complete change of policy re- 
garding the spread of nuclear technology which took place at the end of 

The Liberal Policy 

In his famous speech of December 1953 at the United Nations, President Fisen- 
hower proposed the creation of an International Atomic Fncrgy Agency (IAEA) 
to which the governments principally involved, certainly including the Soviet 
Union, "would make joint contributions from their stockpile of normal uran- 
ium and fissionable materials." This Agency should be responsible for the 
"impounding, storage and protection" of these materials and should devise 


methods under which they would be allocated from such a "bank" to serve 
the peaceful purposes of mankind. Furthermore such a bank should "be made 
essentially immune to surprise seizure/' a reference to terrorist action so much 
feared today. 

In the same speech Eisenhower advocated modification of the McMahon Act 
so as to facilitate international collaboration. This new American policy im- 
plied the progressive removal of the two blocks which had sustained the wall 
of atomic isolation and which had prevented circulation of technical infor- 
mation and of nuclear materials. In exchange the countries receiving aid were 
to guarantee that the nuclear assistance would not be used for military pur- 
poses and, as well, were to accept some form of inspection. However these 
countries were not required to forego military nuclear activity based on facil- 
ities and materials separate from those provided by the United States. 

The reaction to this new "Atoms for Peace" policy was somewhat similar 
to the reaction to an unavoidable liberalization process after a long period 
of authoritarian control. The pressure for release of information was quite 
strong in the months following Eisenhower's speech. The United States seized 
a propitious moment to propose a convening of a major United Nations-spon- 
sored scientific conference, which took place in Geneva in 1955. The agenda 
of the conference covered the whole field of fuel cycle and reactor technologies, 
except for uranium enrichment, which was still the monopoly of the three 
existing nuclear weapon powers. The resulting declassification of these tech- 
nologies could no longer be controlled by the United States. 

As for plutonium production, many countries, including France and the United 
States, disclosed their work. The French, not bound by the clauses of the Quebec 
Agreement, published in great detail the flow sheet of the solvent extraction 
method for reprocessing irradiated fuel. The method had been derived 
from the work of the Anglo-Canadian team that I led in Canada at the end of 
the war when the American technology in this field had been refused. Further- 
more, this reprocessing technology later spread to thirteen industrialized Euro- 
pean countries when, in the late 1950s, they joined together to build the first 
industrial multinational facility, Eurochemic, in Belgium. 

As for nuclear materials, it is an irony of fate that the discovery of 
important uranium resources in the United States led to the termination, in 
the early 1960s, of the large American purchases of uranium from Canada 
and South Africa, to the great disappointment of these two countries. No 
argument on nonproliferation could have convinced the American Congress in 
the 1960s to vote the required funds for the purchase of redundant foreign uran- 


ium. Not only were the contracts not renewed but Congress decided on an em- 
bargo against foreign uranium imports to protect the domestic mining in- 
dustry. Such steps ( eated a considerable disturbance in the West's uranium 
market, the consequences of which are still felt today. Moreover these steps ran 
counter to the objective of nonproliferation as they made available large amounts 
of nuclear material, some of which, in particular, later found its way to the 
French program. 

At the beginning of the nuclear export race it must be remembered that 
American industry lagged behind. In particular, the first two large research 
reactors to be exported in the mid-1950s, before the concept of international 
safeguards had been generally accepted, were the now famous Canadian-Indian 
natural uranium heavy water reactor near Bombay and the similar one built at 
Dimona in Israel with the help of French industry. Similarly, the first two 
nuclear power plants ever to be exported were two British natural uranium 
units sold in 1958 to Italy and Japan. 

American industry reacted rapidly and successfully, capitalizing on the U. S. 
lead in the field of enriched uranium fueled research reactors and submarine 
power systems. With the approval and the help of the Government it was able to 
export some forty research reactors, less expensive than natural uranium fueled 
ones, to countries all over the world, some of which were not yet really ready to 
profit from such a sophisticated facility. American industry was also able to 
test on European grounds its not so "proven" enriched uranium light water power 
reactors owing to a well-timed and financially favorable United States-European 

The success of American industry in the field of reactor exports an! the 
parallel training of technicians from the receiving countries obviously con- 
tributed to the dissemination of technology, but this dissemination was in- 
evitable as many other countries could have supplied reactors and given train- 
ing. The fact that the United States was the only supplier of enriched uranium 
for these reactors give it an invaluable commercial as well as political advantage, 
and enabled it to require that the reactors be used only for peaceful purposes, and 
be inspected first by Americans and then by the IAEA. 

Furthermore, U.S. exports hampered the promotion throughout the world of 
natural uranium research and power reactors. These reactors are by far the 
worst from a nonproliferation standpoint because of the availability of natural 
uranium and the possibility of continuous fuel unloading which permits the 
production of plutonium of good military quality without too serious an added 
economic burden. 


The British never exported any other power plant after their two 1958 success- 
ful sales, while France sold only a single natural uranium graphite moder- 
ated one, to Spain in 1965. From then on. execpt for one German sale to Argentina, 
the Canadians were the sclc exporters of natural uranium fueled reactors which 
they successfully introduced in India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Korea, and Argentina. 

The Safeguarded Assistance Policy 

It took four years to create the international agency proposed in Eisenhow- 
er's speech and even longer to set up its safeguards system. It soon became very 
evident that the IAEA would not play the part of a nuclear materials bank as 
suggested in Eisenhower's proposal; the major powers wanted to keep for them- 
selves the responsibility of chosing the countries to which they would transfer 
such mate/ials. They also wanted to prescribe the corresponding commercial 
and political conditions of such transfers, but they were ready to see the IAEA 
take over the task of monitoring Dledges of nonmilitary usage of any sub- 
stantial nuclear assistance. 

The Agency's system of inspection and verification became the most contro- 
versial subject at the October 1956 worldwide conference on the IAEA Statute 
which took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The principle 
of safeguards was disputed by the Soviet Union and India, and by many 
countries of the third world, which considered it as a kind of neocolonial- 
ism imposed by the advanced Anglo-Saxon powers on the rest of the world. 
In particular, these reluctant countries tried in vain to get natural uranium 
exempted from safeguards. 

The conference nearly broke down on the strict clause which would have al- 
lowed the Agency, under any future safeguards agreement, to require that all 
special fissionable material recovered or produced be deposited under its 
jurisdiction, except for the amounts to be kept for specified peaceful uses The 
conference was saved by a Franco-Swiss compromise, now part of the Statute. 
in which the Agency may demand that only the amounts in excess of what is 
required for research or for reactors existing or under construction be placed 
under its jurisdiction. 

During the first years of its operation, the IAEA's efforts to set up its safe- 
guard system were constantly slowed down by the Soviet Union and by India, 
which never hid its intention of keeping as large a fraction as pos- 
sible of its national nuclear effort free from inspection. Contrary to what 
had been feared in 1953, the Soviet nuclear export program turned out to be 


modest and limited to countries in its orbit or to those who were politically 
friendly. The Soviet Union could, as a result, pride itself on practicing a 
policy of trust and could accuse the Western system of safeguards and inspec- 
tion of implying a lack of confidence in the pledge of peaceful commitments 
given by the assisted countries. 

In 1962 the head of the Soviet Atomic Committee was still comparing the 
"American inspired" Agency safeguards system to "a spider's web which 
would catch in its threads all the science and all the scientists of the 
world." A few months later, after the Cuba missile crisis, the same Russian 
delegate was siding with the United States in its efforts to extend to equip- 
ment the Agency safeguards system which had up to then been limited to ma- 
terials. He then declared that the safeguards function of the Agency was by far 
its most important responsibility. 

The stage was thus set for the establishment of an IAEA comprehensive safe- 
guards system applicable to nuclear materials and main facilities; by the end 
of the 1960s the policy of safeguarded assistance generally was applied by 
supplier countries and accepted by the importers. It did not hamper appreci- 
ably the growing international nuclear trade. 

It must be recognized that such a polio,' is only a palliative to nonprolifer- 
ation as it does not prevent a country from having an unsafeguarded national 
fuel cycle, or even from taking advantage of having been supplied with a 
peacefully committed facility to construct, by its own means, a nonsafeguarded 
duplication. This is being done by India, which is building a series of 
power stations of the heavy water natural uranium Canadian type which are 
copies of a first "peacefully committed" and then IAEA-safeguarded station 
supplied by Canada. One must also consider that any help given for the peace- 
ful nuclear program of a country which is also building up an unsafeguarded 
fuel cycle, indirectly helps its purely national effort as it can release ma- 
terials or equipment which would otherwise be needed for civilian purposes. 
On the other hand, the supply of safeguarded facilities, by discouraging purely 
national efforts while letting the countries concerned enjoy the benefits of nu- 
clear power, can be considered as contributing to nonprolifcration. The breaking 
of an international safeguards agreement, although theoretically possible, is 
politically a very difficult step which no one has yet taken. 

The Non-Proliferation Treaty Policy 

The immediate consequence of the improvement of Russian-American rela- 


tions in 1963 was the conclusion of the Moscow Treaty which prohibited 
all but underground nuclear explosions (i.e., all nuclear explosions that could 
be detected without on-the-spot verification since the Russians remain 
opposed to any inspection on their territory). This renunciation had the 
double purpose of checking the inc. ease of radioactivity around the globe and 
of making it more difficult for countries to try out nuclear weapons by pro- 
hibiting the relatively easy tests in the atmosphere. 

France and China, which had joined the military atomic club in 1960 and 
in 1964 respectively, were the only two main powers to refuse to join the 
Limited Test Ban Treaty, as this undoubtedly would have impaired the building 
up of their own nuclear arsenals. However the fact that practically all other 
countries rallied to this treaty led the major nuclear powers tc attempt in 1965 
a further, major step towards nonproliferation: the renunciation of any nuclear 
explosive device by all nations other than the five that already had exploded 
one. Such a renunciation would imply that the total nuclear activity of coun- 
tries party to the treaty would be of a peaceful characrer, to be guaranteed by 
the available IAEA safeguards system. 

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was concluded in 1968. It aims at divid- 
ing the world between the five nuclear weapon powers, which undertake not to 
assist any country to manufacture a nuclear explosive device, and the other 
states, which undertake not to proceed with such a fabrication and agre*» to 
submit all their nuclear installations to IAEA safeguards Furthermore all 
parties are committed to apply IAEA safeguards to any sensitive supply of 
nuclear materials or equipment transferred to any nonnuclear country regard- 
less of whether it is a party to the treaty. 

In exchange for the renunciation implied by the adherence to the treaty by 
nonnuclear States, Article IV specifies that these countries have an "inalienable 
right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful 
purposes without discrimination" and the "right to participate in the fullest 
possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technical in- 
formation for the peaceful uses of atomic energy." This concession was indis- 
pensable in getting many of the reluctant, advanced or developing countries to 
agree to the treaty. It also confirms and extends the scope of the previous policy 
of liberalization, since the only prohibition concerns nuclear explosives. 

The two superpowers were less successful in their attempt to obtain a 
worldwide rallying to the NPT than they were for the Limited Test Ban Treaty. 
Nearly nine years after the initial signing of the NPT, about twenty states 
possessing or planning a nuclear facility have eitKer refused to join it or, after 


having signed it. have not yet ratified it. These include two of the five nuclear 
weapon powers (China and Trance) and among the nonnuclear weapon powers, 
Israel, South Africa, Spain and all major developing countries except Iran and 
Mexico. Because China and India are among them, the holdouts represent 
about half the world population. 

France has refused to sign the treaty because of its discriminatory character 
even though adherence to it would have in no way hampered its civilian or 
military nuclear programs. Indeed, the French Government stated officially in 
1968, at the time of the conclusion of the treaty, that it would behave exactly 
as if it had signed it, and since then it has always respected the spirit of the 
treaty in its external nuclear actions Germany, Italy and Japan were the three 
last major countries to become parties to the treaty (in 1975 and 1976), and 
by that time many important evei.ts had taken place in the ever-changing 
nuclear world. Some created a doubt about the efficiency of the NPT policy and 
others discouraged new countries from joining the treaty. 

In 1971 the United States lost its monopoly on the supply of enriched 
uranium when the Soviet Union offered enrichment services to the Western world 
In the same year. President Nixon made an offer to transfer the U.S. en- 
richment technology to groups of friendly nations under the condition that the 
technology would be used only for the setting up of multinational!}' managed 
facilities open to Am«.ri~an partic pation, which should not compete com- 
mt.-cic.lly with the American production. This proposal had no success and 
only encouraged the creation of European facilities based on non-American 
technology, su^h as the centrifuge plants being built by Urenco in England and 
Holland and the 'arge gaseous diffusion plant by Eurodif in France. These 
new faculties will enter into production in the early 1980s and should repre- 
sent, by 1985, more than a third of the West's enrichment capacity. 

Because the Uni^d States has not built new uranium enrichment facilities, 
it made the conditions for supplying ?nnched fuel much less attractive for its 
customers. Then in 1974, it announced that, contrary to its previously asserted 
policy, it was no more in a position <o conclude any new contract for en- 
riched fuel. The United States thus unexpectedly left the field of enrichment 
open to its competitors and started to lc: e the extraordinary degree of cont.ol 
it had gained on foreign nuclear development through its monopoly. 

This loss of monopoly on :! c sjpoly of enriched fuel took place at a time 
when American industry was beginning to meet serious commercial compe- 
tition from the Germans and, to a lesser degree, from the French in the rt xport 
of light water power reactors reactors that it had at last succeeded in cstab- 


lishing as being the most universally accepted. The United States was also 
losing ground to foreign industry in the reprocessing of irradiated fuel and 
of the development of the breeder reactor. 

The picture was also rapidly changing with regard to public acceptance of 
nuclear power. While in the 1960s the building cf the fir^t nuclear power plants 
in Europe and in America had met with geneal approval, by the early 1970s 
the opposition to this new form of power had grown considerably, especially 
in the United States. The antinuclear activists first based their attacks on the 
technological risks linked to the operation of reactors and to the disposal of 
i:uclear wastes. They later turned their attention to the political danger inher- 
ent in the unavoidably large amounts of plutonium produced in the conven- 
tional reactors and indispensable for any breeder program. Nonprolifcration and 
nuclear terrorism have now become major arguments used to convince the 
public of the necessity to reject atomic energy. The world energy picture 
changed abruptly with the 1973 oil crisis, which increased both the com- 
petitiveness and the need for nuclear energy; yet opposition to nuclear power 
grew in many countries. 

All these events, already undermining the bases of previous nonprolifcration 
policies, were capped by the shock created by the Indian underground explosion 
of May 1974. Evtn though it was not unexpected by the experts, this ex- 
plosion shook the world as much as first Russian tests because it came from a 
developing country that championed the rights of the third world, and that 
earlier had led the antinuclear peace movements. 

The Suppliers' Policy 

By claiming that their underground test was peaceful and not being signatories 
to the Nf^T, the Indians could assert that they had no' broken any solemn 
pledge. The plutonium they used had been extracted in a nationally built re- 
processing plant ^nd came from Indian natural uranium which had been ir- 
radiated in the first exported research reactor offered for peaceful purposes by 
Canada to India in the mid-1950s before international safeguards were 

However this event was not only deeply resented by the Canadian Govern- 
ment, which had considerably assisted the Indian nuclear development through 
the years and was an active upholder of strict nonprolifcration policies, but it 
also spawned grave mistrust of the whole NTT and IAEA safeguards system. 
This mistrust was directed towards the countries, like India, which had refused 


to adhere to the NPT (hut were party to the Limited Test Ban Treaty) and so 
had kept open the military option and had the right to carry out an under- 
ground explosion, as well as towards the nonnuclear weapon countries party to 
the treaty who might now withdraw from it. Article X of the NPT states that 
any member has the right, in the exercise of its national sovereignty, to with- 
draw from the treaty if it decides that extraordinary events have jeopardized 
its supreme interests. 

The Americans decided, at the end of 1974, to consult with the most ad- 
vanced countries to establish a reinforced export policy based on strictly ob- 
served common rules. The generalization of peaceful use clauses and the 
gradual introduction and acceptance of IAEA safeguards had not created any 
notable disminishment of nuclear trade. If this trend was to continue it would 
be of major importance in getting France to apply the same guidelines as the 
other Western suppliers. In particular, it was most important to know if France 
was prepared to submit all its safeguarded arrangements to the IAEA and also 
willing to impose such guarantees on ail the items on the list of sensitive 
amounts of materials or equipment drawn up in application of the NPT by the 
main supplier countries party to the treaty. The French Government was con- 
vinced of the importance of nuclear energy for the industrialization of many 
countries, but was at the same time deeply conscious of the gravity of the 
threat of proliferation. It decided, therefore, to participate actively in the series 
of meetings of the main nuclear suppliers in London in 1975. The meeting- 
included the Soviet Union, in addition to Britain, Canada, Germany, Japan 
and the United States. 

At these meetings the French said they would accept the same conditions that 
the other suppliers were attaching to their exports. This positive participation 
of the French in the London suppliers' meetings marks a turning point in the 
history of nonproliferation policies, since it was the first time that France was 
willing to join with other countries in the search for a solution to this prob- 
lem of cardinal importance. 

The London meetings showed that there existed among the supplier coun- 
tries two schools of thought on the possible means of reinforcing nonprolif- 
eration through some kind of selective embargo. One group, Kicking confidence 
in IAEA safeguards (that can at most detect but not prevent violations) and in the 
NPT unilatera 1 pledge (that can be revoked with a three months notice) wanted 
to revert to technological barriers to proliferation. They felt that the greatest 
restraint should be shown with regard to materials that can be used for weap- 
ons or installations such as a reprocessing or enrichment plant, which enable 


the production of such materials. They wanted to prohibit any assistance 
towards national reprocessing, enrichment or heavy water plants (because of the 
proliferation danger of the heavy water natural uranium reactor) and to limit 
such assistance to multinational plants managed with the participation of the 
supplier country. 

The other group still had confidence in the legal commitments and wanted to 
prohibit the sale of material or equipment on the sensitive list to any country 
which would not submit to verification by the IAEA of the peaceful and 
non-explosive character of its entire fuel cycle. Some countries were even ready 
to combine both groups' viewpoints. France remained opposed to ?ny form 
of nuclear embargo aimed at putting pressure on the energy policy of a coun- 
try which refuses to submit its full fuel cycle to safeguards. 

Nonetheless by the end of 1975 the London group agreed on minimum guide- 
lines that they would, in any case, follow for their nuclear exports, with the 
understanding that a country was always free to apply stricter rules. The non- 
proliferation philosophy of the London meetings aimed at creating a new 
division of the nuclear world, between supplier and receiving countries in- 
stead of between nuclear weapon and nonnuclear weapon states. This new 
distinction unfortunately can give many developing states a feeling that they 
are confronted with a cartel of advanced countries which, under the pretext of 
nonproliferation, aim to keep their privileges as long as posible. It is also 
artificial because most of the countries involved in nuclear industry are importers 
as well as exporters. 

Restraints and denials in the international armament trade are current prac- 
tice and are not considered as really discriminatory. The difficulty in the 
case of the most sensitive nuclear technologies is that they concern major 
phases of the civilian nuclear cycle as well as the production of weapon-grade 
materials, furthermore, it is unfortunate that the danger, from a proliferation 
point of view, of the enrichment and reprocessing steps is nowhere reflected in 
the NPT which in Article IV underlines the right of access to the civilian fuel 
cycle of all member countries. However understandable in the presence of 
increased development of atomic energy in the world, these restrictions on 
transmission of sensitive technologies can be construed as a breach of the 
promise given in Article IV of the NPT. They are discouraging for the countries 
party to the treaty and also, in a way, provide another justification for those 
which have up to now refused to adhere to the treaty, and certainly do not 
encourage them to become parties. 

An atmopsherc of mutual mistrust has now enveloped both suppliers and 


receiving countries; the latter are making serious financial sacrifices to sup- 
port their atomic development, are requesting more and more guarantees from 
the supplier states to try to avert a much dreaded suppression of assistance in 
midstream. On the other hand, exporting firms have now to take into ac- 
count tht risk of a change in the nonproliferation policies of their home coun- 
try and of the export restrictions to which they must adhere. 

Multiple successive renegotiations of a formally concluded bilateral agreement 
have unfortunately become current practice in nuclear relations. They have 
even taken place at a phase of an assisted project when the receiving country 
was left with the choice of either accepting the new conditions or having to 
face a costly unfinished and unusable installation. A recent case is the one of 
Yugoslavia, the only socialist country to have purchased a nuclear station from 
the West. It protested to the IAEA about the costly refusal by Washington to 
authorize the export of the main components of this reactor in construction 
pending a requested renegotiation of its bilateral agreement with the United 

The French Policy 

In 1972 France concluded with Japan its first bilateral agreement to be submitted 
to IAEA safeguards. The following year, a decision was made to build in France 
a multinational enrichment plant based on the French gaseous diffusion tech- 
nology. The French agreed with their partners that the production of the plant, 
to start in 1979, would be submitted to the rules of the NPT involving IAEA 

At the same time as the London meetings in 1975, the French had nearly com- 
pleted two prolonged series of negotiations concerning French industrial as- 
sistance in the sensitive field of reprocessing with South Korea and Pakistan. 
A similar agreement had been concluded in 1970 with japan and its imple- 
mentation was in a very advanced stage. The projected agreements were then 
modified so as to be in strict conformity with the London guidelines and were 
presented and approved by the Board of Governors of the IAEA in late 1975 and 
early 1976 respectively. 

These were the first trilateral agreements involving the IAEA to include the 
concept of the control of technology. Nevertheless, their conclusion raised violent 
opposition from the supplier governments which had expressed during the 
London negotiations their feeling that the greatest restraint should be applied 
in the transfer of the reprocessing technology, especially in the case of countries 


not yet at a stage where reprocessing of their spent fuel could be considered a 
technical or economic necessity. 

While Korea canceled tnc projected plant under external pressure. Pakistan 
refused to yield, even :hough the United States intervened at the highest level 
and Canada decided to ir.terrupt the uranium and heavy water supplies indis- 
pensable for the functioning of the only Pakistani power reactor (a CanaJian 
built unit which supplies the city of Karachi with half its electricity). The 
Canadians have also cut short their long-standing agreement with India which 
was reluctant to refrain from exploding a second "peaceful" device unt'l the 
completicn of the last power station built with direct Canadian assistance. 

France refused to cancel the freshly signed Pakistani contract which had been 
widely approved by quite a few developing countries, if not by the two neigh- 
bors of Pakistan, India and Iran. Furthermore, it must be noted that the building 
of the plant, which should take at least four years, is under the sole responsibil- 
ity of the Pakistanis, with French industry assisting only as a general consultant. 
Pakistan could probably go it alone and assen.ble a less sophisticated unit in a 
longer time but in such a case the Pakistanis could decide that they were re- 
lieved of their peaceful use pledge and free from IAEA safeguards. 

The United States also expressed a violent opposition to the West German- 
Brazilian agreement which was concluded before the adoption of the London 
guidelines. This agreement, not explicitly in conflict with these guidelines, is 
of great importance to German industry. In addition to the building of a large 
number of nuclear power stations, it covers the transfer to Brazil of reprocessing 
and enrichment technologies. Another troublesome nuclear contract was the sale 
of 1976 by French industry, in competition with American Dutch and German 
firms, of a power plant to South Africa. This time the protest came for reasons 
other than nonproliferation. 

The difficulties engendered by these recent international contracts underline the 
growing political importancp of nuclear exports. France, conscious of this fact, 
decided in September 1976 to create a council for external nuclear policy under 
the chairmanship of the President of the Republic, with membership limited to 
the Ministers concerned and the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. 
The conclusions and principles adopted by this council can be summarized as 
follows: nuclear energy is for a number of countries a competitive source of ener- 
gy indispensable for their development. France is willing to assist them in 
developing nuclear power, will guarantee the fuel supply of the power plants 
it exports, will furnish fuel cycle services and will transfer much needed tech- 
nology. Being deeply hostile to proliferation, it will strengthen the conditions 

37-189 O - 79 - 15 


and the safeguards of its exports and feels that commercial competition must 
never be detrimental to the objective of curbing the proliferation of nuclear 
weapons. It intends to manage unilaterally its export policy but is willing to con- 
sult with other supplier countries and also with importer countries undertaking 
a wide nuclear electrification program. 

More recently, France took a further step to curb proliferation by deciding not 
to authorize, for the time being, any bilateral contracts involving sale to foreign 
countries of industrial reprocessing plants. France now favors the principle of 
maximum restraint on the transfer of the most sensitive technologies. However, 
it is not ready to put pressure on a country in the nuclear, economic or political 
fields to prevent it from alone acquiring or applying those technologies. 

France is deeply convinced that to give the impression, however slightly, 
that nuclear energy could be a monopoly of the industrialized countries is a seri- 
ous polircal mistake, intolerable for the developing countries. Therefore any 
restriction in the flow of technological information and equipment pertaining to 
a sensitive but major phase of the fuel cycle, such as enrichment or reprocessing, 
must be compensated for by guaranteed access to the corresponding services. 
Such a guarantee should imply choice of sources of supply of these services in a 
non-cartel type market. 

The No Weapon-Usable Material Policy 

The policies corresponding to the two schools of thought on the possible means 
of reinforcing nonproliferation through some kind of embargo are still pursued 
today: the nuclear embargo against the nonnuclear states reluctant to join the 
NPT, and the denials of enr ;hment and reprocessing facilities. These policies are 
not contradictory and cou! i be followed at the same time. It seems very late in 
the history of the developrrvnt of nuclear energy to hope to organize an efficient 
nuclear embargo against the nonnuclear weapon countries which have refused to 
put their full fuel cycle under IAEA safeguards. Such a policy, to which France 
is opposed, as we have seen, still has very strong supporters among the leading 
Anglo-Saxon countries (Canada has decided to apply it in the future) and is called 
for by the Soviet Union. However the Russians do not seem ready to apply such a 
policy before it is unanimously accepted and are selling IAEA-safeguarded heavy 
water to the Indians who can no longer purchase it from Canada because of the 
embargo applied against them by Ottawa. 

If a completely free development of atomic energy took place in the world, no 
unilateral pledge, no safeguards system- be it based on the NPT, or on an agree- 


ment with the IAEA, or on a bilateral arrangement with the supplier country or 
all three together — will prevent a nation sooner or later from possessing large 
amounts of weapon-usable materials (either uranium 235 or plutonium). These 
materials could be more or less rapidly transformed into bombs as soon as the 
peaceful use pledge is revoked or the access of the inspectors forbidden. 

It is the realization of this fact that is the base of the reshaping of the nuclear 
export policy taking piace in the United States. The policy aims at dealing with 
a complete and sudden reversal of a nuclear program from a peaceful to a nvlitary 
project, and not with clandestine diversions of special fissionable materials to- 
wards which the saft^uards systems were mainly directed in the past. The only 
means to prevent such an eventuality is to make sure that a country has no 
weapon-usable material in its territory and possesses no facilities (enrichment 
or reprocessing plants) to produce such material. The ideal solution from the 
point of view of nonproliferation would have been to limit the siting of weapon- 
usable material storage facilities as well as enrichment and reprocessing plants 
to the territory of the sole nuclear weapon powers. 

This solution is exactly the way the Soviet Union deals with its allies. It has the 
complete responsibility for the supply of manufactured fuels for the nuclear 
power plants it sells to its neighbors and recovers the fuel after irradiation. (It is 
also the solution that the United States is suggesting for the proposed sales of 
reactors to Fgypt and Israel.) The only participation in the fuel cycle of the as- 
sisted country is the compulsory delivery to the Soviet Union of any uranium 
found on its territory. 

In the early 1960s, during one of the first private talks about nonproliferation 
between a few representatives of the first four nuclear powers, our Soviet col- 
league clearly explained to us such a policy, saying in English: "Nonprolifer- 
ation is no problem, each one takes care of his own." Today its own allies are 
well in hand and the Soviet Union is also quite content to be involved in the 
way we try to treat "our own." The Russians have never transferred to their 
present satellites, who are all parties to the NPT, enrichment and reprocessing 
technologies and would certainly not allow them to acquire and develop 
independently these steps of the fuel cycle. 

This is the fundamental dilemma which confronts the advanced Western 
power. Is it possible to solve the nonproliferation issue by denying transfer 
of sensitive technologies while guaranteeing the corresponding services? Would 
a supplier be tempted to exert economic and political pressure (such as the U.S. 
Congress's Symington Amendment) to prevent reluctant countries from embark- 
ing on an independent path, thereby infringing on the national sovereignty of 


the Jess advanced nations as the Soviets do in a far more drastic way with their 

The problem is complicated by the fact that these technologies are already 
fairly dispersed among nonnuclear weapon powers. Germany, Japan, the Nether- 
lands and South Africa rnve reached the pilot plant stage for uranium enrich- 
ment, and Belgium, Germany, India, Italy and Japan possess on their territory 
small- or medium-sized reprocessing plants. Such a policy could be construed as 
a kind of extension of the NPT, but this time it implies the renunciation of very 
important stages of the civilian nuclear development in comparison to the pre- 
vious NPT pledge to forego peaceful nuclear explosions. 

During the 1960s it was an article of faith for the nuclear energy planners 
to be able to count on unlimited American enrichment and reprocessing services 
at the lowest price available in the West. Today for purely domestic reasons (the 
fight of private versus governmental ownership, the delays in congressional 
decisions, the budgetary difficulties, the nuclear controversy, and the proliferation 
of administrative road blocks) the American enrichment capacities are entirely 
committed and no new plant has yet been definitely decided upon, and the 
American reprocessing facilities will not be ready before the early 1980s. 

This last fact cannot be concealed by President Carter's decision to postpone 
commercial reprocessing and to cease considering plutonium extraction and 
recycling as indispensable. This decision has considerable technical and eco- 
nomic implications: an increase of the amounts of uranium and of enrichment 
capacity necessary for a given power program; the building of huge long-term 
storage capacities for irradiated fuels; and above all a serious delay in the com- 
mercial introduction of breeder reactors, the only presently available solution 
for meeting the increasing energy needs of the next century. 

This unexpected shortage of American enrichment and reprocessing capacities 
has undermined the strong confidence which existed until recently in the Amer- 
ican capability to supply a major fraction of the West's fuel cycle services. 
This shortage is bound to induce mistrust towards future promised guarantees of 
fuel cycle services, and is therefore detrimental to the objective of nonprolifer- 

New enrichment capacities and, sooner or later, new reprocessing facilities will 
have to be undertaken by West. These decisions will have to take into account 
the economic or geographic justification of each project as well as the willing- 
ness of a nation to accept on its territory a multinational enterprise. This type of 
management adopted in Eurodif has a two-sided advantage, it gives a country 
participating in the ownership the guarantee of a corresponding share of 


services and it is safer from the point of view of nonprolifcration as it should 
make the diversion of materials technically more difficult because of the in- 
ternational management. Moreover, nationalization of the facility would be dis- 
couraged by world reaction. 

The new policy under discussion aims at slowing down and controlling the 
evolution of the world balance with regard to the storage of weapon-usable 
material, enrichment and reprocessing. It could lead to three categories of coun- 

— The nations which have the right to store weapon-usable materials, to en- 
rich and to reprocess in nationally or multinational^ owned facilities (this group 
includes the nuclear weapon powers). 

— The nations which have the right to store weapon-usable materials, to en- 
rich and to reprocess only in multinationally owned facilities. 

— The nations which will unilaterally refrain from storing weapon-usable 
materials, enriching and reprocessing fuels. 

But unavoidably, as happened under the NPT, a fourth category of countries 
will emerge: those which v/ill refuse to be included in such a discriminatory 
system and will insist thai they have the right to keep open the option to store, 
to enrich and to reprocess nuclear fuels. It was already difficult to get some NPT 
states to accept the discrimination between nuclear weapon and nonnuclear 
weapon powers; it will be even more difficult, if not impossible, to have another 
level of discrimination accepted within the category of nonnuclear states, 
a category which depends upon whether or not they now possess enrichment 
or reprocessing technologies which some of them will in any case acquire by 
themselves sooner or later. Such classification is obviously somewhat artificial 
and distorted. In particular, a distinction can be made with regard to the quantity 
of materials, the degree of uranium enrichment and between the various separa- 
tion processes, some of which lead more easily to high enrichment than others. 

It is symbolic of the aspirations of the industrialized nonnuclear weapon states 
that Belgium has recently decided to purchase the only existing multinational re- 
processing facility, the Eurochemic plant located in Belgium, which was doomed 
to be dismantled because it was too small to operate economically. 

The best way to dissuade nonnuclear weapon states from creating their own 
enrichment or reprocessing plants does not seem to be the signing of any new 
legal instrument to this effect. It could rather be by the establishment of an open 
and liberal market of these services, a market characterized by diversity and 
competition. Of course such a move could not prevent a state that wishes to 
keep the military option open from building its own plant. But it would net give 


it the excuse of doing so in order to avoid an unacceptable economic and political 
dependence from a single supplier or group of suppliers. 

Another solution much more complex and probably quite Utopian at this 
stage, would be a complete internationalization of the storage, enrichment and 
reprocessing stages, probably limited to the West's peaceful nuclear develop- 
ment. This solution would have the advantage of avoiding the difficult 'hoice 
of having to indicate the countries which should belong to each of the categories 
listed above. 


It is a paradox of this historical perspective of nonproliferation policies that it 
ends as it started by mentioning the solution David Lilienthal had visualized 
nearly a third of a century ago and which could perhaps then have allow .-d us to 
live in a world free from nuclear weapons. 

Whether based on juridicial or technological barriers or both, any new solu- 
tion, to be acceptable, must not appear as delaying or limiting in any way a na- 
tion's access to this indispensable source of energy, nor as making such countries 
dependent on one nation, or one group of nations to meet their energy require- 
ments. It must be underlined that in an increasingly populated world the lack of 
energy will create tensions which could lead, in turn, to an explosive situation per- 
haps as dangerous as the continued spread of nuclear weapons. 

In the choice of a future policy, political considerations are therefore even 
more important than technical or legal ones. The greatest catalyst of prolifer- 
ation is the spread of national autarchic programs. These can only be avoided 
within a general climate of international trust. The escalation of mistrust 
which in these very last years, has arisen between the countries which possess 
the technological information and those which want to acquire it must be dis- 
pelled. It is clear that the latter resent the unnecessary publicity given to the 
measures of restraint taken towards them. These feelings of mistrust would fade 
out if and when the less advanced countries realize that these restraints do not 
hamper their energy development. 

Such a policy will have to be clear and stable. It must not be. by constant mod- 
ifications, an added factor of uncertainty raising new risks in the international 
nuclear trade and within an industry already handicapped by the multiplica- 
tion of safety regulations and by the nuclear controversy. Above all such a policy 
must attempt to respect the degree of national sovereignty of which the West 
is so proud. 



The following paper was presented 
by Sir John Hill, Chairman of the 
UK Atomic Energy Authority, to the 
Forum on Nuclear Power and the 
Energy Future, held by the Royal 
Institution on 1 1 th-1 2th October, 


The problem of proliferation of nuclear 
weapons by countries aspiring to become 
nuclear weapons states is a serious issue and 
has been since the first nuclear weapons were 
detonated in 1945. Although President 
Carter's policy statement in April this year 
has focused massive attention on the nuclear 
fuel cycle associated with the operation of 
nuclear power reactors, the nuclear industry 
and those in Government responsible for 
its regulation have been aware for many 
years of the potential for abusing the nuclear 
powei fuel cycle. Furthermore much thought 
has been given to considering ways in which 
the undoubted benefits offered by this unique 
source of energy can be reaped without 
significantly increasing the risk of proliferation 
of nuclear weapons by those minded to do so. 
The Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 and 
the establishment of the IAEA Safeguards 
Division were significant steps to achieve 
this objective. Even with these steps, however, 
as I pointed out to the Financial Times 
Symposium in London in July 1976, the 
problem of proliferation of nuclear weapons 
remained in my view the most worrying 
aspect of nuclear power. Many governments, 
responsible or irresponsible, depending on 
your point of view, have the capability of 
obtaining weapons of devastating power. The 
solution to this problem is political and 
international. It will not go away by banning 

the construction of nuclear power stations. 

There are various routes to the proliferation 
of nuclear weapons, many of them not 
necessarily connected with a nuclear power 
industry at all. It nevertheless remains the 
world nuclear industry's responsibility to 
ensure that none of its activities run the risk 
of materially increasing the risk of pro- 
liferation, by devising means of making the 
task of abusing the nuclear power fuel cycle 
by terrorists or governments, as difficult as 
practically possible. In the world context 
proliferation will only be controlled by the 
close interplay between political initiative*, 
international agreement and the proper 
application of technology. 

Routes to proliferation 

The essential requirement for a nuclear 
weapon is an adequate supply of fissile mat- 
erial, access to or knowledge of the, not to be 
underestimated, technology of weapon design 
and manufacture and the means of detonating 
the weapons in the target area. The efficiency 
and yield of the weapon will depend crucially 
upon the sophistication of the weapon 
design and assembly and the quantity and 
quality of the fissile material. 

So far nuclear weapons have depended on 
one or more of the fissile isotopes U-235, 
Pu-239 and U-233. The successful detonation 
of a weapon depends on many factors, but 
the presence of isotopes of plutonium or 
uranium other than these can significantly 
affect the practicability of constructing a 
weapon and the yield. Under optimal 
conditions, the amounts of fissile material 
required for a weapon is in the region 
of 10 kgs and this figure could be taken as a 
benchmark for the annual production re- 
quired to give a country a weapons capability 
and thus constitute a significant step towards 

Hill, Sir John. International Proliferation of 
Nuclear Weapons. In Atom, vol. 253, Nov. 1977 
pd. 209-296. Copyriqht material reproduced 
with permission of copyriqht holder. 


U-235 exists in naturally occurring uranium 
at about 0-7 per cent abundance, but for a weap- 
on, the uranium must be "enriched" until it is 
pure or nearly pure fissile isotope. This re- 
quires a separation process. Electromagnetic 
separation produced the first weapons grade 
U-235 but was almost immediately overtaken 
by the diffusion process as the principal 
source of U-235. Centrifuge plants are now 
operating and the centrifuge is more a efficient 
separating process which will slowly replace 
the diffusion plants. A jet process which has 
been discussed in detail in open publications 
is coming into use. The use of lasers to 
separate the isotopes of uranium is currently 
being explored in several countries and in 
principle at least could provide in the future 
an easy and compact route to weapons 
grade U-235. Many of these processes are or 
are expected to be used commercially in 
supplying low enriched uranium to nuclear 
power plants but they could also be used 
after changes in the interconnections to supply 
the high enriched uranium suitable for 
weapons. The newer processes which can be 
built in relatively small units may lend them- 
selves more readily to concealment than the 
much larger diffusion plants. 

Pu-239 is produced by bombarding U-238 
(the main component of natural uranium) 
by neutrons and allowing the products to 
decay. For production on a significant scale 
the neutrons are provided by fission in a 
nuclear reactor and the product is a highly 
radioactive mixture of uranium, fission pro- 
ducts and plutonium which can be separated 
chemically by well proven processes which 
are fully described in open literature. The 
associated radioactivity however makes the 
plants more complex in practice than would 
at first be expected from the relatively simple 
chemistry involved. Plutonium was first 
produced by reactors designed for that 
purpose. Natural uranium reactors, with 
a heavy water or graphite moderator and 
water or gas cooling, operating at com- 
paratively low temperatures and short 
irradiation times still provide the easiest 
route to the production of weapons grade 
plutonium. Research reactors with these 
characteristics can be a not very difficult 
and relatively cheap route to plutonium pro- 
duction. A research reactor with a heat 
output of 30 MW could be built at a cost of 
perhaps ten to twenty million pounds and 
could yield 10 kgs of high grade plutonium a 

Nowadays, by far the greatest quantities 
of plutonium are generated in nuclear power 
stations. In overall terms, the scale of plu- 

tonium production is large (a 1 000 MW(e) 
station would produce 200 kgs in a year) but, 
because the aim of such stations is low 
electricity cost and the fuel is left in the reactor 
as long as it can stand the radiation, the 
plutonium product is a mixture of several 
isotopes (239, 240, 241, 242) with Pu-239 at 
about the 70 per cent level. This mixture has 
a critical mass about 50 per cent greater than 
Pu-239 and because there is a substantial 
neutron yield from Pu-240, any weapon made 
from it can be expected to give a low explosive 
efficiency. Moreover, such a route could take 
at least 8 years and cost some thousand 
million pounds. 

Although in principle it is possible to pro- 
duce plutonium by irradiating U-238 with 
neutrons produced by accelerators, the specifi- 
cation of an accelerator capable of yielding 
10 kgs of Pu-239 per year would be a con- 
siderable advance on any existing today. 

U-233 results from neutron bombardment 
of thorium, a naturally occurring element. 
The neutron source could be a reactor fuelled 
by U-235 or Pu-239. In either case, efficient 
operation would depend on already having 
suitable technology — for enrichment if U-235 
is used, or for plutonium separation if Pu-239 
is required. The U-233 must also be separated 
chemically by processes similar to those used 
for plutonium. 

Any of the processes outlined above could, 
if developed to the stage of producing some 
10 kgs per annum of any of these isotopes, 
provide a route to a nuclear weapon capa- 
bility. Of these materials and processes, 
Pu-239 has in the past required the smallest 
production facilities. With the development 
of new enrichment processes this may not be 
true in the future. The most easily concealed 
is likely to be a small U-235 enrichment plant 
using the newer separation processes. 

Nuclear power fuel cycles and 

The main stages of a nuclear power station 
fuel cycle are: 

the fabrication of fuel elements at a central 
plant; the installation of those elements in 
the reactor core for a period of a few years; 
the removal of fuel which has run its in-core 
life and its replacement by fresh fuel; 
the storage of spent fuel in a cooling pond; 
and the dismantling and reprocessing of the 
spent fuel at a central plant so that uranium 
can be re-used, plutonium can be stored for 
future use and fission products can be 
conditioned for ultimate disposal. 
The n^*d to consene uranmm in the 


present state of world supply, the risks 
associated with plutonium stock piles and the 
merits of storing spent fuel indefinitely 
instead of separating the fission products are 
the three aspects of fuel reprocessing which 
have attracted attention. Because processing 
has been seen to involve creation of large 
amounts of plutonium in forms relatively 
easily made into weapons, attention has been 
focused on means of avoiding this risk. 

One solution that has been proposed has 
been to stop all fuel processing and so avoid 
the problem. This has caused concern in 
those countries which do not have indigenous 
supplies of natural uranium because they 
have seen reprocessing followed by the use of 
plutonium in a fast reactor as a means by 
which to guarantee their future power supplies 
as fossil fuels become scarcer and uranium too 
has become scarce and expensive. If pro- 
cessing is not proceeded with a much larger 
capacity to store spent fuel would have to be 
created. This would require substantial re- 
search to establish the condition of storage 
and the safe life of such storage methods. 
Furthermoie it is probable that some form of 
processing will in any case be necessary to 
condition the fission products for ultimate 
disposal. Finally after some years of storage 
the spent fuel loses much of its radioactivity 
and so the plutonium could be extracted in 
smaller and less sophisticated plants. The 
amount of accessible plutonium would there- 
fore be larger than if the plutonium were 
locked up in the cores of fast reactors. 

Before considering possible alternatives to 
the existing fuel cycle it is important to 
recognise two controlling factors. The first is 
the amount of natural uranium available to 
meet the energy shortage which most countries 
foresee. The gap between the most optimistic 
and the most pessimistic estimates of uranium 
availability in the world is very large. The few 
countries within whose boundaries this 
uranium exists may feel able to judge that the 
risk of running out is small. But the majority 
of countries with small indigenous resources 
will take the opposite view because they 
believe they would be the first to suffer if a 
real shortage arises and furthermore they fear 
that supplier nations may use the supply of 
uranium as a political weapon against them. 

The second factor is the time available in 
which to develop a completely new approach 
to abundant nuclear power. Those countries 
without significant fossil fuel reserves and 
which look towards nuclear power to support 
their industry take the view that if the fast 
breeder reactor were to be proved and intro- 
duced on a logical tirrit wale it will be starting 

to contribute commercially to energy supplies 
around the year 2 000 and so be only just 
in time to meet world energy needs. Any 
alternative scheme must at least mutch that 

The only possible competitor to the fast 
breeder reactor as a means of economising in 
natural uranium is the use of thorium in 
reactors with very good neutron economy. 
As has already been pointed out, this can 
only be accomplished by irradiating it with 
spare neutrons from a uranium-plutonium 
reactor or an accelerator neutron generator. 
Substitution of Th-232 for U-238 in a reactor 
requires a large enrichment capacity and a 
thorium/U-233 recycle capacity. Both these 
technologies would carry the proliferation 
risks that the introduction of thorium was 
meant to avoid, and it is by no means certain 
that uranium requirements would be reduced 
by a significant amount, even in the long term. 

It has been argued that because the thorium 
route is through a uranium isotope it is easy 
to add U-238 and so make it difficult to gain 
access to weapons grade U-233. But this leads 
straight back to the production of plutonium, 
albeit in smaller amounts, which could be 
chemically separated. 

If spent fuel reprocessing is considered to 
be necessary, or at the very least economically 
very desirable, how can it be made an accept- 
able international activity? First, international 
agreement to limit the number of plants and 
place them under international inspection 
and supervision would be a substantial step 
forward. Such plants could be large and 
efficient and could offer a central processing 
service at a very competitive cost. Second, 
there are many possibilities of introducing 
technical and security features which could 
make it as difficult and time-consuming to 
divert fissile material from legitimate nuclear 
power station use to weapons production as 
to build a completely separate weapons 

The fast reactor fuel cycle 

While eventually it is possible to envisage a 
nuclear power system solely comprising fast 
reactors, this is many decades away and the 
fuel cycle which we must consider would 
take spent fuel from thermal reactors, separate 
the plutonium and introduce it into fast 
reactors in fuel which would subsequently be 
reprocessed in a separate fast reactor re- 
processing plant. 

Since the fast reactor does not require pure 
plutonium, but a mixture of approximately 
25 per .cent plutonium oxide and 75 per cent 
cranium oxide there is no necessity to trans- 


port 'pure plutonium in the fast reactor fuel 
cycle. It is possible to envisage going further 
and not carrying out the separation to the 
point of producing pure plutonium at any 
point in the cycle, a concept often referred to 
us "'co-processing". It is in fact possible to 
envisage going further than this to the extent 
of adding contaminants to the plutonium con- 
fining fuel (e.g. fission products or Co-60) 
^vhich in the extreme would make the plu- 
" )nium as inaccessible as in spent fuel re- 
moved from reactors. 

To summarise, if we compare policies based 
on nuclear power with and without pro- 
cessing and fast reactors, the principle points 
relevant to international proliferation can be 
summarised as follows: 

Without reprocessing enrichment capacity 
and uranium production would have to be 
stepped up and more uranium consuming 
reactors built. This would be likely to result 
in the "have-nots" being even more dependent 
on the "haves", and more likely to seek self 
sufficiency by developing their own repro- 
cessing capability. The thorium fuel cycle 
appears to be the only alternative to the fast 
breeder and so far no scheme which reduces 
uranium consumption and avoids reprocessing 
and the production of plutonium in quantities 
suitable for small numbers of weapons has 
emerged. The time available to develop 
viable alternative cycles may be too short. 
And provision for spent fuel storage would 
have to be expanded and safeguarded. 

With reprocessing and exploitation of fast 
reactors, theie would be less risk of a uranium 
shortage or high uranium prices. More spent 
fuel processing plant would have to be built 
but it would provide an element of choice to 
the "have-nots" who would therefore feel less 
compelled to go it alone. If fast reactors are 
to be available in time to make the contri- 
bution which it is forecast will be required of 
them, there is no time to spare in the fast 
reactor development programme. It is clear 
that pure plutonium suitable for weapons 
manufacture could not acceptably be shipped 
around the world as a normal commercial 
product and the processing plants must there- 
fore produce plutonium in the safest and most 
easily safeguardable form. 

Overall, it can be argued that the cessation 
of processing with the consequential stopping 
of fast breeder development is likely to in- 
crease the risk of international proliferation 
rather than the reverse. This is because fore- 
casts of uranium availability are conflicting 
and although small quantities of uranium are 
widely distributed tire free wdrld's major 
reserve./ are located almost entiely ia four 

countries. All the other countries, particularly 
those which are also deficient in fossil fuels, 
have justifiable fears about security of supply 
for their nuclear fuel and will seek some form 
of energy independence. If spent fuel pro- 
cessing is not available and enrichment 
services only from the major nuclear powers 
there will be no foreseeable route to indepen- 
dence in energy supply. Fuel processing 
reduces the extent of dependence in the short 
term and holds a prospect of total indepen- 
dence in the long term. There seems no 
likelihood of any absolute "technical fix" 
which can reduce the problems of proliferation 
to nil, but there are many steps that can be 
taken which combined with international 
agieements on supervision and inspection of 
these activities which would reduce the risk 
of nucleai weapon proliferation to little above 
that which would exist in the absence of a 
nuclear power programme. It is with this end 
in view that the United Kingdom are therefore 
participating in the major International Fuel 
Cycle Evaluation study set up following on 
from the Downing Street Summit Meeting 
held in May this year, in which we expect 
particular benefit to be forthcoming from 
the re-examination of certain aspects of the 
existing thermal and fast reactor fuel cycles. 

Security aspects of the existing 
fuel cycle 

Turning now to the subject of the physical 
security of the existing fuel cycle, the need for 
effective measures to ensure the physical 
security of the plant and materials was 
recognised right from the outset of our 
programme of development for civil nuclear 
power more than twenty-five years ago. 
Accordingly, a system of security measures 
was set up, based on the needs that were 
identified at the time. In response to the 
growing requirements of the programme, we 
have developed and consolidated this system 
not only by applying improved methods for 
the direct physical safeguarding of nuclear 
plant and materials, but also by adopting 
a deliberate policy of treating security as a 
plant design target and as a criterion to be 
applied to operating nuclear material and 
handling procedures. By this means we have 
been able to establish an integrated scheme of 
security that meets the particular requirements 
of each segment of the nuclear fuel cycle. 

The need to maintain similarly high stan- 
dards in an expanded power programme will 
be a continuing challenge, but it will not be 
ditTerent in kind from that which we have 
faced in the past. As the needs of the pro- 
gramme dictate, we will continue to re- 


evaluate and develop our security methods 
as necessary, and there is every reason to 
believe that we can achieve and maintain the 
necessary standards of security throughout 
all stages of the fuel cycle. 

The way in which our integrated security 
scheme is applied can be illustrated by 
reference to some specific aspects of the system. 

Site security is achieved in part by means of 
continuous surveillance of designated areas. 
Access to these is strictly limited. Within 
each designated perimeter there may be a 
number of sub-perimeters that are also 
controlled so that access to a particular 
facility is further limited. 

Complementing the surveillance of re- 
stricted areas, the plant design itself is such 
that there are few points at which access to 
nuclear materials could be possible, and these 
points are subject to appropriate strict 

The approach to security of nuclear 
mateiials in transit between sites has to be 
made within a more limited framework. In 
the expanded programme that is envisaged 
security can be assured in a number of ways. 
The spent fuel will, as now, be transported in 
massive 80 ton flasks. One essential function 
of these containers is to provide shielding 
against radiation from the fuel elements. 
Irradiated fuel does not pose much of a 
problem from the point of view of protection 
against terrorist attack, because although it 
contains plutonium it is so radioactive that the 
plutonium is inaccessible to anyone not 
having the complex plant necessary for its 

It has been argued that a network of fast 
reactors will involve the risk of theft of 
plutonium during shipments of new un- 
irradiated fuel from the reprocessing site to 
the reactor. This fuel will contain mixed 
oxides of plutonium and uranium. The trans- 
port of these fuel assemblies could be made 
secute by shipping them in the same 80 ton 
flasks used for the spent fuel, and placing them 
under armed guard. An attempt to divert such 
a container would be very unlikely to meet 
with success. Apart from the difficulty of 
overpowering the armed guards, there would 
remain the problem of removing the massive 
flask undetected to a place from where it 
could not be retrieved by counter-measures 
during the considerable time necessary for . 
chemically separating the uranium and plu- 
tonium and then further manipulation of the 
plutonium into some form of crude weapon. 
There are much easier and more effective 
targets for potential terrorists. Alternately, 
these new ftnl assemblies could be trans- 

ported in a high security vehicle, again under 
armed guard. 

Another approach to overcoming the 
security problems would be eventually to 
eliminate the need for transport altogether. 
This is the concept of the nuclear park, a 
station consisting of several reactors on one 
site, complete with the necessary fuel fabri- 
cation and reprocessing facilities. Transport 
of plutonium would therefore be eliminated 
after the initial charges for the reactors were 
delivered to the site. Physical protection of 
the nuclear materials would then be along the 
lines already described and need not be 
fundamentally different from those needed to 
safeguard any large and potentially dangerous 
industrial installation. We are proposing to 
demonstrate this concept in piactice at 
Dounreay, where we have at present on one 
site the Prototype Fast Reactor and its re- 
processing plant. We intend to build at the 
appropriate time the necessary fuel fabri- 
cation plant on the same site so that the 
entire fuel cycle can be operated alongside 
the reactor. (The PFR fuel is at present 
fabricated at Windscale.) 

Critics of an expanded programme of 
nuclear power have claimed that the security 
measuies that will be necessary will inevitably 
lead to an erosion of civil liberties. I believe 
that this argument is wrong and very mis- 
leading. The balance between secui ity arrange- 
ments in general and the desire to achieve any 
national objective is of course a matter to be 
decided by Parliament and rational public 
opinion, and the course of action that the 
country follows will depend on the particular 
nature and extent of the threats against which 
the security measures are to be directed. 
Nonetheless I would like to give specific 
attention to the security of nuclear materials, 
because 1 believe we can achieve the necessary 
safeguards in a way compatible with civil 
liberties. On this subject, the Secretary of 
State for Energy published answers on 2nd 
June to questions put to him earlier this year 
by the Friends of the Earth, the Council for 
the Protection of Rural England and the 
National Council foi Civil Liberties. 

The Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary 
consists of special constables appointed under 
the terms of the Special Constables Act 1923. 
The Atomic Energy Authority (Special Con- 
stables) Act 1976 placed these constables in 
the same position as members of any other 
civil police force with regard to possession 
and use of firearms, and did not confer on 
them any special powers of pursuit and arrest. 
The duties of the Atomic Energy Authority 
Constabulaty are confined to the nuclear 


installations operated by the Atomic Energy 
Authority and British Nuclear Fuels Limited 
and the guarding of certain nuclear materials 
in transit. The Atomic Energy Authority 
(Special Constables) Act 1976 provides them 
with the ordinary powers of police constables 
in ;.he type of circumstances that might arise 
when they are protecting nuclear material. 
The Chief Constable of the force is responsible 
for the issue to, and use of firearms by, its 
nembers, who are only issued with arms when 
they are undertaking duties involving the 
protection of certain nuclear materials. The 
Constabulary is not a private armed force; it 
is responsible to the Atomic Energy Authority 
which itself answers to Parliament through 
the Secretary of State for Energy. 

It has been suggested that the extension of 
positive vetting procedures would encroach 
upon the liberties of those people employed in 
an expanded nuclear power programme. 
This greatly exaggerates the position. 
Positive vetting has been used for many years 
in Government Departments and furthermore 
it is envisaged that only a small proportion 
of the employees would be subject to this kind 
of inquiry, i.e. those whose duties involve 
access to sensitive material. The majority of 
personnel would not have access to sensitive 
material or information concerning it of 
sufficient importance to require any special 
procedures. Other points covered by the 
Secretary of State in his replies should be 
noted: bodies and individuals opposed to 
nuclear power would not be subject to security 
surveillance on that account, but only if 
their activities were believed to be subversive, 
violent or unlawful, and it is not expected 
that any alteration of procedures governing 
inteiception of mail, telephones or other 
communication would be required on account 
of the development of nuclear power; 
contingency plans for dealing with terrorist 
threats to nuclear installations would be 
effective should the need arise, and there is 
no reason to suppose that these would impinge 
on the liberties of individual citizens. 

These considerations should give us con- 
fidence that we can achieve an acceptable 
balance between the requirements of security 
to guard against the diversion of nuclear 
materials and the maintenance of our civil 

The IAEA and the 
Non-Proliferation Treaty 

The British Government have over the years 
recognised the seriousness of the proliferation 
problem and have therefore always given 
maximum support to the International Atomic 

Energy Agency and its safeguards arrange- 
ments and to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation 

The International Atomic Energy Agency 
has two major objectives — to enable nuclear 
energy to make the maximum contribution to 
world energy requirements and to prevent 
the spread of nuclear weapons. As part of its 
promotional activities the Agency arranges 
international meetings for discussion of a wide 
range of technical problems, endeavours to 
obtain agreement from member countries on 
common standards, in particular for the 
protection of radioactive materials during 
use and transport, and helps developing 
countries to build up the necessary infra- 
structure for a future nuclear power pro- 
gramme or to reach a decision on the form 
and timing of such programmes. 

In pursuit of its second objective — the 
prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation — 
the Agency has the great advantage that it is 
recognised as a promotional organisation 
endeavouring to find a machinery which will 
enable civil nuclear power programmes to 
operate and expand while stopping the spread 
of nuclear weapons, and not one concencen- 
trating on denial measures and with little 
concern for the effect these might have on 
nuclear power programmes. Indeed, the 
Agency has constantly stressed the intention 
of the Non-Proliferation Treaty that those 
countries which are prepared to sign and 
ratify the Treaty and to place their nuclear 
facilities under safeguards should be given 
full support over the promotion of their 
nuclear power programmes through the 
supply of both plant and technology from 
other countries. This situation has led to the 
Agency gaining the confidence of both the 
main nuclear suppliers and majority of the 
developing countries with nuclear intentions, 
and thus obtaining their full co-operation over 
the implementation of existing safeguards 
measures and over the evolution of new 
measures designed to stop the spread of nuclear 

The Agency safeguards system has been 
designed to enable a country's civil nuclear 
power programme to be subject to a close and 
continuing watch which will not disrupt or 
slow up that programme's operations but 
which will identify any diversion of effort to 
weapons production at the earliest possible 
point. The Agency maintains records of all 
source and special fissionable material, that 
is thorium, uranium and plutonium, held by 
a country for its civil nuclear programme. 
Checks on these figures are carried out by the 
Agency's Safeguards Inspectorate, "whose 


members make frequent but irregular visits 
to nuclear plants and go carefully through 
their records in order to satisfy themselves of 
the whereabouts of all the source and special 
fissionable material and that the plant is 
being operated for peaceful purposes. 

The operation of the Agency's safeguards 
systems now extends to all except a relatively 
small number of those states which possess 
some form of nuclear project. The Agency 
is generally a third party in agreements 
between Governments for the supply of 
source material and special fissionable material 
from one country to another, and in par- 
ticular is named in the Non-Proliferation 
Treaty as being charged with arrangements 
for ensuring that parties to the Treaty comply 
with its provisions. Over 100 nations have 
now signed and ratified the Non-Proliferation 
Treaty and have accepted the Agency's right 
to inspect their nuclear plants and facilities. 
Both the UK and the US have signed volun- 
tary agreements with the Agency giving that 
organisation the right to inspect their civil 

It could not be claimed that the Agency 
and the Non-Proliferation Treaty provide an 
absolute guarantee against nuclear pro- 
liferation, but around the world it is now 
recognised that the Agency will only be able 
fully to implement its existing inspection and 
developing control functions if it is given the 
fullest support from the world community. 
Nonetheless the work of the Agency and the 
drawing up of the Non-Proliferation Treaty 
constitute a major step forward along the 
non-proliferation road. The Agency' are 
already looking at the next stages on that road 
and giving thought to problems 'which have 
already been touched upon, such as whether 
fuel which has been irradiated in a reactor 
should be held as such, whether its ultimate 
reprocessing should be carried out at multi- 
national centres operated under the Agency's 
aegis, and how the plutonium obtained from 
reprocessing operations can most safely be 

In addition to their support of the Agency's 
safeguards operations and planning studies, 
a number of nations have sent letters in 
similar terms to the Director General of the 
Agency giving undertakings that they will 
not export certain "trigger"' items essential 
to the introduction of a nuclear power pro- 
gramme or the relevant technology to coun- 
tries which are not a party to the Non- 
Proliferation Treaty unless they are covered 
by IAEA safeguards. Moreover these nations 
which meet together regularly to discuss how ; 
their national policies can best be sHaned t&' : 

prevent the spread of nuclear weapons are 
now discussing arrangements whereby a 
country exporting an individual "trigger" 
list item of material or equipment would ask 
the importing country to accept safeguards 
not only on that item but on the whole of 
their existing or future nuclear facilities. 
Discussions have also taken place in this 
forum on arrangements for international 
co-ordination of reprocessing services and 
for international control of plutonium sup- 

Finally the supplier nations are giving 
thought to what sanctions should be imposed 
on importing countries which break their 
obligations and how pressure could be 
brought to bear on them quickly and effect- 
tively by such means as an international 
embargo on further supplies of materials and 
equipment which would in effect disrupt 
their existing nuclear programmes. 

Various technologies for the procurement of 
the fissile materials needed for a nuclear 
weapon capability exist and cannot be un- 
invented. Stopping civil nuclear power pro- 
grammes and the development of the fast 
reactor would not in itself remove the danger 
of proliferation. Following on from President 
Carter's bold policy initiative in April of this 
year the world s attention has been drawn to 
the necessity further to strengthen the inter- 
national arrangements for safeguarding the 
peaceful exploitation of nucleai power. One 
hundred and two countries of which ninety- 
nine are non-nuclear weapons states have 
signed and ratified the Non-Proliferation 
Treaty, even though from an historical 
perspective this represents an unparalleled 
intrusion into their national sovereignty. In 
addition twelve further countries have signed 
but not yet ratified this Treaty. Furthermore 
the capability of the International Atomic 
Energy Agency to carry out international 
inspections has been growing considerably 
in the seven years since the Non-Proliferation 
Treaty came into force, and the Agency has 
concluded safeguards agreements with almost 
all states party to the Treaty and is regularly 
carrying out inspections. The basis for sound 
international control therefore exists and 
taken together with the further technical 
steps which will be taken to make the existing 
fuel cycles more robust against the diversion 
of materials by terrorists and the abuse of 
. civil nuclear power programmes by govern- 
ments, we have good reason to proceed now 
with the orderly exploitation of the invaluable 
nuclear energy source confident that we can 
avoid materially' facilitating, the proliferation 
of nuclear" * 



of Side 


**^ NX o*. 

^T ES O* 


March 9, 1976 
Washington, D.C. 

Bureau of Public Affairs 
Office of Media Services 


Secretary Henry A. Kissinger before the Senate 
Committee on Government Operati ms. 

I welcome this opportunity to speak to you 
on the subject of nuclear proliferation— one of the 
most urgent problems facing the United States and 
the world community and one which will vitally 
affect the security of all nations for the rest of this 

As the committee is aware, your concerns 
over the dangers posed by further nuclear pro- 
liferation are widely and deeply shared throughout 
the U.S. Government. 

To convey to you both the seriousness with 
which we view this issue and the steps we are tak- 
ing to deal with the proliferation problem, I pro- 
pose to address the following questions in my 

• First, how does nonproliferation fit into the 
framework of our overall foreign policy? 

• Second, what multilateral efforts to deter 
proliferation have already been initiated and what 
further measures do we contemplate? 

• Third, what actions are we taking as a matter 
of U.S. national policy to reinforce and extend our 
international nonproliferation activities? 

• Fourth, how do we assess the longer term 
prospects for containing further nuclear spread 
through an evolving diplomatic and technical 

Before turning to these broader aspects of 
nonproliferation, I should note that I fully approve 

of the position on Senate Bill 1439 [Export Reor- 
ganization Act of 1976] set forth by Depu*" Secre- 
tary [of State Robert S.] Ingersoll before the com- 
mittee. For the reasons outlined during his January 
30 appearance, we cannot support this bill. 

Nonproliferation Perspectives 

Nonproliferation has been a primary foreign 
policy goal of the United States through six Ad- 
ministrations, with major accomplishments stem- 
ming from U.S. initiatives demonstrating the 
seriousness with which this policy has been pur- 
sued. I cite, for example, the adoption of bilateral 
safeguards and controls in our govemment-to- 
government cooperative agreements, the establish- 
ment of the International Atomic Energy Agency 
[IAEA] in Vienna, and the entering into force of 
the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT] . As a 
result of these steps, the number of nuclear wea- 
pons states has been substantially limited. 

After I assumed the office of the Secretary of 
State, however, it became apparent that changing 
circumstances warranted a new look at our nonpro- 
liferation strategy. 

• Other industrialized states were entering the 
international nuclear market, thereby challenging 
our long-standing dominance as a commercial 
nuclear exporter and threatening to diminish the ulti- 
mate effect of our national safeguards and control 

• The oil crisis has stimulated many developing 
as well as developed states to accelerate their 
peaceful nuclear power programs, both as a means 


of lowering the cost of generating electric energy 
and reducing their reliance on imported petroleum 

• The nuclear test by India underscored the 
fact that additional states, even those not part of 
the highly industrialized world, were capable of 
using nuclear technology to construct explosives. 

In my speech to the U .N.' General Assembly 
in September of 1974, I underscored our concerns 
over the rapid spread of nuclear technology with 
potential explosive implications. I chose this forum 
to address the pressing problem of proliferation, 
since it is clear that the danger of the further spread 
of nuclear explosives is a problem vital to every 
nation on this planet. 

At that time I warned against complacency by 
observing that the world has grown so accustomed 
to the existence of nuclear weapons that it assumes 
they will never be used. But today technology is 
rapidly expanding the number of nuclear weapons 
in the hands of major powers and threatens to put 
nuclear explosive technology at the disposal of an 
increasing number of other countries. 

Let me emphasize that pursuit of a vigorous 
nonproliferation strategy remains a fundamental 
dimension of this Administration's overall foreign 

• We see the need to reduce the danger of 
nuclear war as the centerpiece of our policy. If 
additional states acquire nuclear weapons, global 
stability would be endangered and regional con- 
flicts would run the risk of leading to nuclear war, 
with potentially catastrophic consequences not 
only for the nations involved but for all major 

• We view the peaceful settlement of regional 
conflicts and a more stable world order as crucial 
U.S. objectives. Yet a world of many nuclear 
powers would result in heightened political ten- 
sions and increased instabilities flowing from fears 
that nuclear weapons might be used, whether de- 
liberately or through miscalculation. 

• We support the worldwide goal of finding 
alternative sources of energy to reduce reliance on 
oil. Yet a progressive pattern of proliferation could 
set back— if not cripple entirely— the continued 
growth of peaceful nuclear energy to service man- 

kind's needs, as exporters and importer* alike came 
to lose confidence in the ability of the internation- 
al system to find effective techniques for realizing 
the peaceful benefits of nuclear energy while elimi- 
nating its inherent security risk. 

To meet these new dangers I emphasized in 
my 1974 UNGA speech— and again a year later be- 
fore the same forum— the importance the United 
States attaches to nonproliferation. In both ad- 
dresses I outlined practical steps we saw as neces- 
sary to move forward effectively and comprehen- 
sively in this vital field. These included: 

• Proposals for the major suppliers to strength- 
en nuclear safeguards; 

• Efforts to gain the widest possible support 
for the international safeguard system and the 
Nonproliferation Treaty; 

• Physical security measures to protect nuclear 
material against theft or diversion; and 

• Steps to prevent the unrestrained spread of 
sensitive nuclear facilities, such as national repro- 
cessing plants. 

I am pleased to take this opportunity to re- 
port to this committee on the progress we have 
made and the problems we still face. There have 
been solid accomplishments to date, and I will go 
into the details of these successes in a few mo- 
ments. But we are far from complacent, and even 
as we consolidate our gains, we seek to strengthen 
our nonproliferation strategy. 

I do not have to tell this committee how diffi- 
cult it is to devise a strategy that can guarantee 
success in preventing the number of nuclear 
weapons states from increasing during the coming 
decades. But I cannot emphasize too strongly our 
belief that the effort can and must be made to 
contain nuclear spread, even it we cannot be cer- 
tain of completely and effectively blocking addi- 
tional nuclear proliferation. 

It is within the foregoing framework that we 
have mounted a major effort during the past two 
years to strengthen the worldwide nonproliferation 
regime. This strategy has had two reinforcing ele- 
ments : 

• Multilateral actions to move forward with 


other states in meeting the nonproliferation chal- 
lenge and 

• National nuclear export policies to insure 
that the United States continues to exert responsi- 
ble leadership in nonproliferation. 

Let me now describe in some detail the key 
elements of our nonproliferation strategy, what has 
been accomplished during the past two years, and 
what needs to be done to further advance our posi- 

Multilateral Strategy 

Suppliers Consultation. I have noted earlier 
that the United States, practically speaking, does 
not have complete, unilateral freedom of action 
with respect to its nuclear export policy. Other 
major industrial powers have the capacity and de- 
sire to contribute to the world's needs for peaceful 
nuclear energy, and they fully recognize the need 
to safeguard their assistance. 

It is important, however, that safeguards not 
become an element of commercial competition. 
U.S. constraints by themselves will have little ef- 
fect if other nuclear suppliers decline to exercise 
the same restraint. In recognition of this we have 
pursued a policy of consulting with other nuclear 
exporting countries in an effort to devise a com- 
mon set of standards concerning safeguards and 
other related controls associated with peaceful nu- 
clear exports. I believe these efforts have met with 
a significant degree of success. 

As a result of these consultations, the United 
States has decided to adopt, as a matter of national 
policy, certain principles which will govern our 
future nuclear exports. We have been informed 
that a number of other countries intend to do the 
same. As other Administration witnesses have testi- 
fied in recent weeks before another Senate com- 
mittee, these principles include: 

• Provisions for the application of IAEA safe- 
guards on exports of material, equipment, and 
technology ; 

• Prohibitions against using assistance for any 
nuclear explosions including those for "peaceful 

• Requirements for physical security measures 
on nuclear equipment and materials; 

• Application of restraint in the transfer of 
sensitive technologies (such as enrichment and re- 
processing) ; 

• Encouragement of multinational regional 
facilities for reprocessing and enrichment; and 

• Special conditions governing the use or re- 
transfer of sensitive material, equipment, and 

These are significant principles which have 
moved the level and comprehensiveness of interna- 
tional nonproliferation controls substantially 
beyond where they were only a few short years 
ago. But it is important to recognize that further 
efforts are needed to improve and extend these 
principles and that our efforts are part of a pro- 
gressive and evolving process which we will con- 
tinue in close consultation with other suppliers. 

NPT Adherence. A second important element 
of our international nonproliferation strategy is 
our effort to secure the widest possible adherence 
to the Nonproliferation Treaty. Adherence to the 
NPT is a key element in prevention of nuclear pro- 
liferation, because it involves a comprehensive 
commitment by nonnuclear weapons states not to 
develop nuclear explosives— a commitment verified 
by IAEA safeguards on all peaceful nuclear facili- 
ties in that country and also because it requires 
safeguards on nuclear exports. 

While NPT adherence is still far from uni- 
versal, nearly 100 states are now party to the trea- 
ty. The past 18 months have seen a number of 
important new adherents, including the Federal 
Republic of Germany, Italy, the Benelux countries, 
the Republic of Korea, Libya, and Venezuela, as 
well as submission of the treaty by Japan— which 
has already signed the treaty— to the Diet for ratifi- 

We must continue to do whatever we can to 
increase support for this most important treaty in 
the hope that nonnuclear weapons states who see 
the disadvantages of acquiring nuclear weapons will 
perceive that their national interest would best be 
served by adherence. 

IAEA Safeguards. Another essential feature of 
our international strategy— and, indeed, one mat 


underpins the progress we have made in consulta- 
tions with other suppliers and one that is basic to 
the Nonproliferation Treaty itself— is the compre- 
hensive safeguard system of the International 
Atomic Energy Agency. Even in the case of re- 
cipient states not party to the NPT, the IAEA 
system provides internationally recognized safe- 
guard arrangements to insure that nuclear exports 
are used for peaceful purposes. 

IAEA safeguards entail techniques to account 
for nuclear materials, reinforced by containment 
and surveillance measures. Agency experts conduct 
onsite inspections to verify, through independent 
means, that safeguard material and facilities are 
being used for declared purposes. These safeguards 
can provide a high degree of assurance that any 
signifk nt diversions will be detected and thus pro- 
vide a real deterrent. 

While a safeguard system cannot provide 
absolute assurance that all conceivable diversions, 
however modest, will be detected, it does not have 
to. What it must do— and what the IAEA accom- 
plishes with confidence— is expose the would-be 
diverter to a high risk of detection. 

We recognize that some question the adequa- 
cy of the international controls related to nuclear 
facilities and materials that have evolved over the 
years. However in the one instance where a nuclear 
device was exploded through the use of equipment 
obtained from outside, safeguards did not exist on 
the facility or its products. Consequently the ques- 
tion of adequacy of safeguards in this case simply 
did not arise. In fact, since the inception of safe- 
guards, we know of no nation that has acquired 
nuclear weapons through any diversion of nuclear 
material subject to either bilateral or IAEA 

We believe that the IAEA system-with the 
active technical, financial, and political support of 
key suppliers and all nations interested in using 
nuclear energy for peaceful purposes— will continue 
to fulfill this requirement. Indeed the IAEA safe- 
guards system continues to be a most vital and 
singularly important element in the battery of con- 
straints developed over the years in support of our 
nonproliferation objectives. 

Sensitive Exports. Another element in our 
international strategy is designed to meet what is 
perhaps the most troublesome nonproliferation 

issues confronting us— namely, dealing with sensi- 
tive technologies, such as reprocessing, enrichment, 
and heavy water production. The problem has been 
made more acute as more countries become inter- 
ested in acquiring these sensitive facilities. In terms 
of proliferation risks, plutonium reprocessing 
plants abroad pose the most immediate problem. 
This is unfortunate, since for most countries— those 
without very large nuclear power programs-the 
economic benefits of reprocessing spent fuel 
remain dubious. 

As a result of growing perceptions of the 
direct proliferation risks, suppliers as well as recipi- 
ents appear to be exercising increasing restraint in 
such sensitive areas and have concluded rigorous 
safeguard agreements. In this regard we greatly wel- 
comed Korea's decision not to acquire a national 
reprocessing facility and hope that it will enhance 
multilateral efforts to develop alternatives to 
national capabilities. 

One course of action which might meet the 
future reprocessing needs of certain countries in a 
potentially economic manner— and at the same 
time alleviate some of our concerns regarding the 
proliferation of such facilities— is the concept of a 
multinational fuel cycle center, serving regional 
needs, to which I gave my personal support 
before the U .N. General Assembly last year. 

Such plants— involving management, opera- 
tion, and perhaps ownership by more than one 
country— would reduce the incentive for small and 
inefficient national plants and provide useful added 
assurances against unilateral abrogation of 
nonproliferation undertakings, particularly if 
collocated with other parts of the fuel cycle such as 
the fabrication and storage of nuclear materials. 
They would also facilitate the application of inter- 
national safeguards. The IAEA is currently carrying 
out a study of the multinational concept. 

Physical Security. The final key element of 
our international nonproliferation strategy con- 
cerns the question of physical security of nuclear 
facilities and materials— and specifically the con- 
cern that a subnational or terrorist group might 
seize nuclear materials. 

We have received excellent cooperation in our 
consultations with other countries designed to 
insure that adequate physical security measures are 
applied. Major suppliers are including provisions in 

37-189 O - 79 - 16 


their nuclear cooperation agreements which specifi- 
cally require adequate levels of physical security 
systems in recipient countries to protect nuclear 
materials and equipment. Experts from member 
countries are assisting the IAEA in developing an 
authoritative body of knowledge on the establish- 
ment of effective national physical security sys- 

Also we are pursuing our proposal of an inter- 
national convention— setting standards to protect 
the physical security of nuclear materials— that 
might serve to facilitate international collaboration 
and greater uniformity of practice in this area. 

U.S. National Strategy 

Basic Premise. I have been discussing those 
multilateral measures we are pursuing in support of 
our nonproliferation objectives. U.S. national poli- 
cies and practices in this area reflect our special 
concern with the problem of nonproliferation and 
are, in some respects, more stringent than those of 
some other supplier nations. 

The basic premise of U.S. nuclear cooperation 
for over 20 years has been worldwide cooperation 
in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under effec- 
tive controls. Our approach has been to offer long- 
term assurances of enriched uranium supply- 
accompanied by the especially economical U.S. 
reactor technology— in exchange for agreement on 
effective safeguard arrangements. In this connec- 
tion, as I testified before another committee of the 
Congress last month in support of the Administra- 
tion's proposed Nuclear Fuel Assurances Act, 
many of the positive advances we have made in 
pursuit of our nonproliferation objectives can be 
traced directly to our capability and willingness to 
furnish enriched uranium on a reliable and long- 
term basis, along with other elements essential to 
peaceful nuclear development. 

Policy Elements. As I observed earlier our 
policies with regard to nuclear exports are fully 
consistent with the principles adopted as a result of 
supplier consultations and, in fact, in some areas go 
beyond them. For example in the areas of repro- 
cessing, enrichment, and heavy water production 
activities, our basic approach has been to avoid the 
export of such sensitive technologies. To insure 
adequate control the executive branch instituted in 

1972 special regulations governing all proposed 
transactions in these areas. 

With regard to the general problem of repro- 
cessing, the United States is providing significant 
technical and financial support to the IAEA in con- 
nection with its study of the multinational regional 
fuel cycle center concept. We are also urging that 
relevant groups of countries initiate discussions of 
the potential of this concept among themselves. 

In the area of international safeguards, I 
would note that in his most recent energy message 
the President outlined the Administration's decision 
to make special contributions of up to a total of $5 
million in the next five years to help strengthen the 
agency's safeguards program. We will, of course, 
continue research programs and technical support 
activities aimed at assisting the IAEA to develop 
more effective safeguard procedures. 

Pursuant to the physical security measures we 
have adopted as a result of supplier consultations, 
the United States has adopted the policy that sig- 
nificant quantities of sensitive nuclear materials 
will not be approved for export unless adequate 
physical protection measures are applied in the 
recipient countries, and U.S. physical security 
teams have visited numerous countries in this con- 
nection to observe their protection systems. 

Proposals for Severe Constraints. Against the 
backdrop of the strategies that we are pursuing 
internationally and as a matter of U.S. national 
policy, I believe it appropriate that I respond to 
some of the critics of our nuclear export policies 
who have called for what I believe to be overly 
severe constraints which would seriously set back, 
rather than advance, our nonproliferation efforts. 
These proposals range from a complete moratori- 
um on our nuclear exports and to an embargo on 
nuclear transfers to non-NPT parties, to proposals 
to agree to nuclear exports to states not party to 
the NPT only if they have accepted approved 
IAEA safeguards on all their peaceful nuclear pro- 

In essence it is our view that adoption of any 
of these proposals would for example: 

• Violate the spirit, if not the letter, of a num- 
ber of international undertakings to cooperate in 
peaceful nuclear programs, including Article IV of 
the Nonproliferation Treaty ; 


• Damage our political relationships, well 
beyond the nuclear area, with a large number of 
countries which have entered into long-term ar- 
rangements with us; 

• Cast further doubt on the credibility of U.S. 
supply commitments and the constancy of our 
policy at precisely the moment when we can least 
afford such doubts; 

• Reduce the influence we are now able to 
bring to bear in support of our nonproliferation 
objectives inasmuch as it is unlikely that such pro- 
posals will be supported by all major suppliers; and 

• Might well result in the breakdown of sup- 
plier cooperation and a return to relatively uncon- 
trolled competition among other supplier coun- 

I have commented negatively on these pro- 
posals, not because I question the motivation and 
concern that underlie them but because I do not 
believe they would achieve our nonproliferation 
objectives. The problems of proliferation are com- 
plicated and not susceptible to quick and easy solu- 
tions. To avoid the further spread of nuclear 
weapon capabilities will require the diligent pursuit 
of complex political and technical measures which 
minimize the pressures for proliferation and at the 
same time erect effective controls against it. This 
Administration is firmly committed to this objec- 
tive, and I know we can count on the Congress to 
work with us in insuring we can achieve this vital 

Proliferation Prognosis 

The arrangements I have described are de- 
signed to inhibit and detect any diversion. There 
remains the question of measures that could be 
applied in the event of a demonstrated diversion of 
nuclear material to nonpeaceful purposes or other 
violations of a nonproliferation or safeguards 
undertaking. This is a question of importance since 
treaty assurances against proliferation, even when 
backed by effective safeguards, could lose much of 
their deterrent power if nations came to believe 
that violations of such arrangements would not be 
viewed with seriousness by the international 

Under the statute of the International Atomic 
Energy Agency, all further peaceful nuclear assist 
ance would be discontinued in the event a state 
violated its IAEA safeguards commitments. If U.S. 
nuclear material was involved, our bilateral agree- 
ments call for halting further assistance. The IAEA 
statute also provides for suspension of membership 
in the agency in the event of a violation and report- 
ing to the U.N. Security Council. In addition both 
our bilateral agreements and the IAEA statute 
include the right to call for the return of supplied 
materials and equipment. 

These actions are substantial. The discontin- 
uance of supply to a country which has committed 
a major portion of its electrical energy generation 
to nuclear energy is, in itself, a significant disincen- 
tive to any violation. More generally I can assure 
you that the United States would treat a violation 
of one of its agreements With the utmost gravity. 
And I am confident that the world community at 
large would view such an action with comparable 

However, these considerations do not relieve 
us of the need to insure that we have taken all 
available and practical preventive measures to fore- 
stall the spread of nuclear weapons. To this end, as 
I have indicated, we have strengthened and stand- 
ardized the system of safeguards and controls in 
our national policies and through multilateral 
initiatives, identified the improvements needed to 
further diminish the likelihood that peaceful 
nuclear technology will be used to build explosives, 
and established procedural and institutional ar- 
rangements to enable us to consolidate our gains 
and move toward our future goals. 

Perhaps most fundamentally we recognize 
that proliferation is not a problem to be addressed 
solely through the technical and legal framework 
of safeguards and export controls— vital as these 
avenues may be. There is a direct link, as I have 
stressed, between our efforts in nonproliferation 
and our broader efforts to construct a more secure 
international climate. If countries remain con- 
vinced that regional and global tensions can be 
reduced through cooperation, that disputes can be 
resolved in a peaceful manner, and that their legiti- 
mate security requirements can be met there will 
be no need for them to develop nuclear weapons. 


To be successful in our nonproliferation 
endeavors, we must sustain and build upon the 
multilateral and national policy foundations we 
have established. As I indicated earlier this requires 
constant attention to consultations with other 
nuclear suppliers, peaceful nuclear cooperation 
with recipients, and constructive support for inter- 
national mechanisms which can lend permanence 
to our nonproliferation policies. 

This task warrants the most vigorous U.S. and 

international efforts. We hope to work construc- 
tively with the Congress in continuing to develop 
and implement a balanced U.S. nonproliferation 
strategy— balanced in the need to maintain our 
influence through prudent and reliable national 
export policies, the importance of pursuing a mul- 
tilateral as well as a national approach, and the 
recognition that our overall foreign objectives can 
reinforce our nonproliferation goals as we work to 
create a more stable world order. 


Nuclear Power and 


- An Optimistic View 

• by 

Myron B. Kratzer 
Senior Consultant 
International Energy Associates Limited 
Washington, D.C. 


Avoiding the spread of nuclear weapons to additional 
countries has been a constant feature of United States policy 
since the development of the atomic bomb. Few national policies 
have received such consistent and nearly unanimous support 
as has nonproliferation. Moreover, there is widespread inter- 
national agreement on the need to avoid nuclear proliferation. 
Not only those few nations which have developed nuclear wea- 
pons, but the vast majority of those which have not done so 
recognize that proliferation would lead to a more dangerous 
world for all. 

Yet, despite the broad agreement on nonproliferation as 
an important goal, nonproliferation policy in its details — 
not whether, but how to achieve it — has in recent years be- 
come the subject of intense debate both domestically and inter- 
nationally. Our national debate, however necessary and proper 
in our system, has not always served the agreed upon goal of 
an effective nonproliferation policy. 



Today, there are encouraging signs that, while much re- 
mains to be resolved, views are beginning to converge and a 
new consensus may be emerging, on how to have widespread enjoy- 
ment of the benefits of nuclear power without introducing 
unacceptable proliferation risks. 

If this should occur, it will be none too soon. While 
no one in a position of responsibility and knowledge took the 
oil crisis of 1973-74 and its possible impact on the United 
States lightly, there was a general feeling that the United 
States with its still comfortable reserves of oil and gas, 
its enormous coal resources, and its nuclear fuel potential, 
could adjust better than most. The events of the past year 
or two have, or should have, dispelled that illusion. It is 
not Japan, with its 85% dependence on imported energy, or 
Germany, with its 65% dependence, or any of the other highly 
industrialized, energy-poor countries which have failed to 
find a way to live with the fourfold increase in oil prices, 
but the United States itself. The real transfer of our accu- 
mulated wealth represented by the current $30 billion balance 
of trade deficit, a figure which coincides roughly with our 

oil imports, cannot fail/ if long continued, to have profound 

effects on our economic well-being, and ultimately, on our 
political independence as well. 

The current installed nuclear generation capacity of 
50 GWe, which represents only 9% of total U.S. capacity, is 
equivalent to 1.4 million barrels per day of oil or $7 billion 
annually at current world oil prices. The present consumption 


of oil products for power generation is equivalent to 1.7 bbl. 
per day, or $8.8 billion per year. The current shortfall in 
nuclear power growth compared with the 1974 projection of 
210 GWe by 1985 is some 100 GWe, equivalent to 2 . 8 BDOE , or 
$12 billion annually. These figures show that nuclear power 
is already making an important contribution to our energy bal- 
ance, and that the nation is paying a high price for the unfor- 
tunate and largely unnecessary slowdown in nuclear installation. 

Even the most optimistic scenario for the revival of 
nuclear power cannot, of course, have an immediate impact on 
our oil imports. Nevertheless, confidence plays an enor- 
mously important role in international economic and political 
relations. The image of a United States once again moving 
toward a national energy future in which nuclear power plays 
a key and accepted role could have important benefits even on 
a short-term basis, and is clearly essential to our long-term 
international stature. Our partners abroad, who by and large 
have made a better adjustment than we to the short-term effects 
of higher oil prices, have no doubt as to the essential role 
of nuclear power in their own long-term energy future. They 
cannot fail to view with both concern and resentment a U.S. 
which is doing far too little to cut back its disproportionate 
demands on the global oil resources from which we all draw. 

I recognize that this predominantly U.S. audience - 
whose primary responsibilities lie in meeting domestic power 
requirements - may feel that there is an only indirect connec- 
tion at best between the issue of nuclear proliferation and the 


deeply disturbing domestic energy situation to which I have 
just referred. The connection, however, in my view, is a 
close one. Nuclear power is a global organism, whose health 
in one region of the world is closely related to its health 
everywhere. The factors that contribute to its well-being, 
especially that elusive element which we call public acceptance, 
are subtle and far from predictable. But there can be no 
doubt that one of the essential conditions for the widespread 
acceptability of nuclear power in the United States is confi- 
dence that this development can take place without contributing 
to nuclear proliferation. The decline in this confidence has 
been a factor in the overall difficulties encountered by nu- 
clear power in recent years, and it is at least possible that 
a rebirth of confidence could help catalyze a general revival 
of the national will to make full and effective use of nuclear 
power in meeting our energy needs. 

It is against the background of this belief that I would 
like to review with you today the evolution of our international 
nuclear policy; the reexamination that began in 1974; and 
the recent developments which give rise to the hope that a 
new consensus may be emerging. Finally, I will attempt to 
look forward and identify the general outlines of what the 
future consensus might entail. 

The Evolution of Policy 

In order for any country to develop nuclear weapons, two 
conditions must be met; it must have the technical capability 


and it must have the political will to do so. Since early 
in the nuclear era, many more countries have possessed the 
technical capability to develop these weapons than have chosen 
to do so, and the number of countries with the necessary tech- 
nical capability increases as time goes on. 

The political decision to acquire or not acquire nuclear 
weapons arises from a complex mixture of perceived incentives 
and disincentives. Perhaps paramount among these is each 
country's perception of its national security, and how this 
would be affected by having nuclear weapons. Thus, an impor- 
tant aspect of U.S. proliferation policy has been to foster, 
through mutual defense assurances and other means, conditions 
which overcome supposed needs or incentives to have nuclear 
arms. There is, of course, a relationship between political 
will and technical capability. A readily available technical 
path to nuclear weapons could make the political decision to 
proceed an easier one. On the other hand, the ready availa- 
bility of peaceful nuclear assistance on attractive terms, 
coupled with the recognition that this assistance would become 
unavailable if proliferation occurred, makes political decisions 
to undertake independent and potentially military programs — 
more difficult. 

Important and interrelated as both of these factors are, 
the proliferation debate, recently as in the past, has tended 
to focus on the issue of technical capability, and especially 
on the question of access to fissionable material suitable for 


weapons-use. Since the development of the atomic bomb, the 
assumption has been that the availability of such material, 
and not its fabrication into nuclear explosives, is the prin- 
cipal technical obstacle to weapons production. There is recog- 
nition that weapons-useable material can be obtained in a number 
of ways. The issue, however, has been the extent to which nuc- 
lear power facilitates access to weapons-useable material. In - 
giving primary attention today to this issue, I do not mean to 
diminish in any way the importance — indeed in the view of many, 
the dominant — role of political and security motivations in 
the proliferation equation. 

The intense secrecy which surrounded the wartime atomic 
bomb project did not end with the hostilities, and the effort 
to impede the flow of sensitive nuclear technology to other 
nations through secrecy was the core of the first U.S. nonpro- 
liferation policy. Even at the outset, however, the hope that 
the "secret" could be kept out of the hands of a growing num- 
ber of additional nations was discounted by many and especially 
by the scientists whose efforts were responsible for the suc- 
cess of the Manhattan Project. 

This conviction well-founded, as events proved that 
secrecy was not the answer led to the first proposal for inter- 
national control of nuclear energy. In the Acheson-Lilienthal 
study of 1946, a group of distinguished nuclear scientists pro- 
posed a far-reaching scheme for placing all sensitive nuclear 
activities under international ownership-management. Signi- 
ficantly, they foresaw the peacetime potential of nuclear energy 


and their plan was intended to permit and encourage peaceful 
uses, while banning military applications even by the United 
States itself. 

The Acheson-Lilienthal plan was presented as a U.S. 
proposal to the United Nations in 1946, but Soviet opposition 
led to its rejection, and secrecy prevailed as the fundamental 
nuclear policy not only of the U.S. but of other nations as 
well. By the early 1950' s, it was apparent that this policy 
could not avoid the steady dispersion of nuclear weapons 
capabilities. The Soviet Union had exploded its first nuclear 
device in 1949, and Great Britain followed suit in 1952. 
France had initiated a major nuclear program which seemed 
destined to be military in nature, and many other countries 
were beginning their own efforts. Concurrently, peaceful uses 
of nuclear energy, especially nuclear power, were approaching 
the stage of practical application, a situation which would 
inevitably lead to pressures to engage in nuclear activities 
even on the part of countries with no present interest in 
developing nuclear weapons. 

Faced with these facts, the U.S. decided on a major +- 

change in its policy. In December 1953, President Eisenhower 
proposed that there be international cooperation in the peace- 
ful use of nuclear energy, under controls to assure that this 
cooperation would not be diverted to military uses. He also 
proposed the creation of an International Atomic Energy Agency 
which would be the focal point of both the cooperative programs 


and the international control machinery. The Eisenhower plan 
differed from the earlier Acheson-Lilienthal concept in one 
very important respect: unlike the earlier plan, the new 
proposals did not call for international ownership and mana- 
gement of sensitive activities. Instead it contemplated 
national programs under international safeguards, a system of 
inspection and control designed to sound the alarm in case 
any diversion to military uses took place. The implicit 
assumption was that world reaction to such a serious viola- 
tion of the rules would deter violations in most cases, and 
deal effectively with any which might occur. 

The Eisenhower Atoms for Peace proposals were generally 
adopted by the Congress through passage of the Atomic Energy 
Act of 1954, the same legislations which authorized private 
civil nuclear activities, including nuclear power, in the 
United States. The domestic and international programs and 
policies were of necessity intimately related from the outset, 
since a program of international nuclear cooperation could not 
have been undertaken in the absence of a strong domestic base. 

Both the domestic and international peaceful nuclear 
programs developed quickly after 1954. A domestic nuclear 
power industry was inaugrated, with the first large power 
reactor, Shippingport being placed in operation in 1957, only 
3 years after the start of construction. The installation 
of privately owned plants, of which Dresden I was the one of 


the first, was started soon after. Internationally, the U.S. 
concluded its first cooperative agreements in 1955. The first 
Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy was 
held in the same year, and the International Atomic Energy 
Agency was established in 1957 near-record time for an inter- 
national undertaking of this type. 

The U.S. was not alone in its efforts to create a new 
regime based on cooperation under effective controls. Other 
countries with a nuclear capability adopted similar policies, 
and in some important respects preceded the United States in 
their practical application. Faced with dwindling fossil 
fuel reserves, long before the North Sea oil and gas discover- 
ies, Great Britain moved faster than the United States in 
applying nuclear power and in making it available to other 
nations. A little noted but significant fact is that the 
first nuclear power plants sold in international commerce were 
British Magnox units sold to Italy and Japan. 

As time went on, the fabric of international coopera- 
tion and control was strengthened. The novel concept of on— " 
site inspections to assure that no diversion was taking place 
was not only incorporated into international agreements but 
put into practice, first by the United States bilaterally 
and later by the international staff of the IAEA. Most 
countries with nuclear capability adopted the policy of furn- 
ishing nuclear assistance only on the condition that it be 
subject to these safeguards. The U.S. and other suppliers 



went to great lengths to offer reliable long term nuclear fuel 
supply assurances so as to discourage the development of in- 
dependent sources of supply. As a result, the bulk of the 
nuclear activities in the world came under this regime, even 
though there was no legal barrier to any nations' pursuing - ^ 
independent nuclear programs and developing nuclear weapons " 
if it chose to do so. During this period, two additional 
nations — France in 1960, and Mainland China in 1964 — 
developed nuclear explosives, through independent programs 
dedicated to this purpose. Thus the policy of offering 
peaceful nuclear assistance under safeguards appeared to be 
accomplishing its objective of restraining proliferation, 
if not avoiding it completely. 

In 1968, a major new development took place with 
successful completion of the negotiation of the Nonprolifer- 
ation Treaty. Under this agreement, non-nuclear weapons 
countries who become parties must pledge not to acquire 
nuclear explosives in any way, and to accept safeguards on 
all their peaceful nuclear activities, whether they involve 
outside assistance or not. Thus, the gap of unsaf eguarded, 
independent nuclear programs which existed under the earlier 
arrangements was closed, at least for those countries which 
acrxeed to accept the Treaty. 

The response to the Treaty was a surprisingly positive 
ome, considering that non-nuclear countries which accept it 
must relinquish their sovereign right to acquire, except in 



very exceptional circumstances, the most powerful of all 
weapons. Today, more than 100 nations, including three of 
the five nuclear weapons states, are parties to the Treaty, 
a dramatic indication of the strength of the nonproliferation 
principle. Nevertheless, a small number of important 
countries from the standpoint of potential interest in and 
capability to develop nuclear explosive remain outside 
the Treaty. A primary objective of U.S. nonproliferation 
policy is to encourage these countries to become parties 
to the Treaty, or to accept in some other way, comparable 
restraints and safeguards against acquiring nuclear weapons. 

With the successful conclusion of the nonproliferation 
treaty and its steadily growing acceptance, nonproliferation 
policy and practice appeared to be on a sound course. The 
combination of peaceful nuclear cooperation, which offered 
countries an attractive alternative to independent nuclear 
development, the International Atomic Energy and its safe- 
guards, and the Nonproliferation Treaty formed an overall 
nonproliferation regime which saw a full decade pass with"-^ 
out addition of countries to the nuclear explosive "club". 
Underlying these agreements and mechanisms and forming an 
important part of the regime itself, was the successful 
development of a global nonproliferation ethic — a nearly 
universal recognition that the proliferation would lead to 
a more dangerous world for all, and, accordingly that the 



acquisition of nuclear weapons constitutes unacceptable inter- 
national behavior. Coupled with this, the availability 
of peaceful nuclear assistance on attractive terms under 
safeguards made independent and uncontrolled nuclear pro- 
grams — whether explicitly military or not — unnecessary 
and therefore suspect. 

The Reexamination 

The long period of steady progress and relative stability 
in nonproliferation policy and practice was disturbed if 
not shattered by several events and developments in 1974. 
The most specific of these was the Indian nuclear explosion 
of May 1974, which for the first time saw the development 
of a nuclear explosive based on assistance made available 
for peaceful nuclear purposes. 

The Indian nuclear explosion involved complex and 
ambiguous circumstances which made it less than a con- 
vincing test of the existing nonproliferation regime. The 
arrangement which enabled India to produce the plutonium 
needed for its explosive device was made at a very early 

stage of the Atoms for Peace program and did not include 

the safeguards which becamde standard practice in later 
arrangements. Nevertheless, the Indian explosion — the 
first one by an addtional nation in ten years — demon- 
strated dramatically that nuclear assistance could be 
misused, and that the application of effective penalties 
and sanctions after the fact was difficult. 



There were, however, additional developments which 
contributed importantly to the need for a reexamination 
of past nonproliferation policies. These included the 
U.S. offers of nuclear assistance to Israel and Egypt, 
the growing concern with terrorism and its possible ex- 
tension to nuclear activities, the general decline in 
confidence in the "establishment", and the increasing 
attacks on nuclear power in general. 

Perhaps more -important than any other event, however, 
in triggering the review of U.S. nuclear policy and shaping 
its main thrust was the proposed transfer to several develop- 
ing countries of facilities for reprocessing of spent fuel 
and separation of plutonium and, in one case, of enrich- 
ment facilities as well. While all of these transfers 
were to be accompanied by safeguards, and violated no pre- 
vious ground-rules of international nuclear trade, there 
was a stong feeling in the United States that the transfer 
of facilities to countries in sensitive regions, whose 
economic need for the facilities was marginal at best, 
involved serious proliferation risks. 

As orginally expressed, this concern did not involve 
a major break with past nonproliferation policy. The safe- 
guarding of reprocessing facilities was always recognized 
as a technically difficult task, and reprocessing there- 
fore was always singled out for special attention in both 
U.S. bilateral nuclear agreements and in international 

37-189 O - 79 - 17 


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the political decision to acquire nuclear weapons could 
and would do so regardless as to whether they had access 
to plutonium through the power reactor fuel cycle. Domes- 
tically, there was criticism that there was no need for 
the U.S., a nuclear power, to forego potentially beneficial 
and energy-conserving activities to set an example for 
others, particularly when it seemed certain that others - 
would not follow the example. Abroad the critics com- 
plained that the U.S. policy failed to take account of 
the far less favorable energy situations of other countries 
and that energy planning could not be based on optimistic 
estimates of resource availability. Virtually every 
country indicated that its plan would not be altered by 
reason of the new U.S. policy. 

The original statement recognized the distinction 
between the U.S. and other countries in terms of energy 
resources, and proposed the international evaluation of 
alternate fuel cycles which would ultimately allow plu- 
tonium utilization. Nevertheless, whether fairly or 

unfairly, the statement was widely viewed as putting ' 

the emDhasis on "indefinite deferral" and not on finding 
a solution. The suggestion that alternate fuel cycles 
might be worth considering was generally dismissed as 
unrealistic. Similarly, the references to the breeder 
were widely interpreted as in opposition to liquid-metal 
cooled breeder, on which all major breeder proarams 



were based, rather than to the plutonium fuel cyle 
specifically. Opposition to the breeder, which was widely 
viewed by other countries as their best hope for reducing 
intolerable dependence on imported fuel, was a source of 
particular concern. While plutonium recycle itself was 
not given high priority by most countries, plutonium was 
seen as the key, through the breeder, to full utilization 

of the vast energy resources of uranium. 

The intensity of the debate tended to polarize the 
the situation and to obsure the fact that boi:h viewpoints 
were respectable ones on which reasonable men can differ. 
For a time it seemed to rule out the search for a middle 
ground which is so essential to the functioning of both 
our domestic system and international relations. That 
middle ground, I believe, must incorporate both recognition 
of the hazards of unrestrained accumulation of plutonium 
in national hands and the essentiality of using plutonium 
to unlock the energy value of our uranium resources. 



As time went on, a process of accommodation began. 
The proposed international nuclear fuel cycle evaluation, 
— INFCE — almost overlooked in the April policy state- 
ment, became virtually the centerpiece of the new policy. 
The program was agreed upon in principle in the May Summit 
Conference and was formally inaugurated in October 1977. 
Participation by more than 40 countries ensured the vital 
element of international consultation in the search for 
a new consensus. The evaluation itself was broadened 
to include not simply alternate fuel cycles, but the con- 
ventional one itself, thus avoiding the implication of a 
prior judgment as to the unacceptability of the conven- 
tional uranium-plutonium cycle. The emphasis shifted 
gradually but unmistakeably from "indefinite deferral" 
to a pause long enough for a solution to be found, an 
important distinction in tone. In effect, the feeling 
was growing that the U.S. was genuinely seeking a way 
to live with plutonium, rather than to live without it. 
Agreement was reached that INFCE would be approached 
objectively and without prejudgment, and that existing 
programs and policies of all participants would not 
be prejudiced during the two years of the INFCE study. 

In the crucial matter of the breeder, frequent Ad- 
ministration statements have clarified that the United 
States is not opposed to the breeder itself, or to the 
breeder programs of other countries, but is concerned 



with the plutonium fuel cycle. Concrete evidence of 
U.S. flexibility was apparent in the deicision to 
approve experimental reprocessing of U.S. origin fuel 
in the new Japanese pilot reprocessing plant, as part 
of an understanding that the operation would be of an 
interim nature and of value to INFCE. Administration 
spokesmen have repeatedly emphasized the continued U.S. 
adherence to the basic principle of nuclear cooperation, 
and have recognized the importance of nuclear power as 
an element in reducing energy dependence of our partners. 
Extreme solutions such as nuclear moratorium and distur- 
bance of alliance relationships have been emphatically 
ruled out. 

On their part, other countries have generally acknow- 
ledged the proliferation risks which had been emphasized 
by the Carter Adminstration and through their partici- 
pation in INFCE have indicated a willingness to consider 
alternatives. Plutonium recycle in current generation 
reactors has clearly been deemphasized if not entirely 
put aside. Both France and Germany have publicly announced 
decisions to refrain from entering into new arrangements 
for the export of reprocessing facilities for the time 
being, thus fulfilling one of the Administration's major 
objectives. The London group of supplier nations, en- 
larged to 15 members, publicly released its guidelines 



which call for restraint in exporting reprocessing or 
other sensitive technologies, and impose stringent 
safeguards on any cases where such exports take place. 

Much of the debate of the past four years has, 
unfortunately, involved the use of imprecise terms 
such as reprocessing and breeders, which in turn have 
become code words that tend to divide rather than con- 
solidate views. It is, or should be, evident that 
the legitimate objective of nonproliferation policy is 
not to suppress reprocessing or breeder reactors, but 
to avoid or minimize national access to separated plu- 
tonium or other weapons-useable material. The extent 
to which reprocessing facilitates this access depends 
on what kind of reprocessing, and where and by what 
kind of an organization it is carried out. Sirailiarly, 
the breeder, including the liquid metal cooled breeder, 
may or may not facilitate national access to separated 
Plutonium, depending on the specific aspects of its 
fuel cycle, and other considerations. Although recog- 
nition of these facts is implicit in the INFCE process, 
the imprecise use of terms such as reprocessing is 
still common enough to cause confusion over the real 
objective of nonproliferation policy. 

National access can be limited in two ways: by 
technical changes in the fuel cycle which avoid the 
separation of weapons-useable materials, and by 



institutional arrangements which put sensitive facilities 
and materials under international control . Both approaches 
have merit, and both are included in the areas under ex- 
amination by INFCE. Predictably, these are advocates 
of one approach or the other, as well as those who insist 
that a blend of both approaches is called for - a difference 
of views which is probably healthy at this stage of affairs. 
With the inevitably spread of technology, however, techni- 
cal obstacles are a wasting nonproliferation asset, and 
increasing reliance must be placed on institutional meas- 
ures, if lasting stability is to be assured. 

The process of accommodation has also progressed within 
the U.S. On its own behalf, the nuclear industry has under- 
taken a comprehensive evaluation of potential proliferation- 
resistant fuel cycles, and the Electric Power Research 
Institute in cooperation with the United Kingdom Atomic 
Energy Authority has recently announced a reprocessing 
scheme, designated CIVEX, which avoids the separation of 
pure plutonium, in line with Administration nonprolifer- 
ation objectives. In a recent speech, the President of 
the Atomic Industrial Forum has outlined a concept for 
the nuclear world of 2000 which' includes full-scope safe- 
guards, restraint on the spread of weapons-useable material, 
multinational facilities, and the development of more pro- 
liferation resistant processes. 

Despite these unmistakeable signs of convergence, 
much remains to be accomplished before international nuclear 



relations are once again on a steady, constructive course. 

An important remaining problem area is that gener- 
ally referred to as nuclear export policy. U.S. nuclear 
export arrangements were carefully developed over at- - 
period of nearly two decades as a means to advance U.S. 
proliferation policy. The fundamental principle of these 
arrangements was that the assured availability of nuclear 
fuel and other forms of nuclear cooperation, made avail- 
able under safeguards, was the most effective means of 
discouraging the development of independent and uncontrolled 
national programs. In line with this principle, the U.S. 
entered into a number of cooperative agreements with other 
nations for long term supply of nuclear fuel and the ex- 
port of reactors. While licensing of individual exports 
under these agreements was required, this licensing was 
viewed as an administrative action to ensure that exports 
were in fact in conformity with the agreements . 

In 19 75, a philosophy emerged, that U.S. nuclear ex- 
ports, even under existing agreements, could be conditioned 

on the recipients' acceptance of new nonproliferation *~ 

conditions. At the same time, the transfer of export li- 
censing responsibility to the newly formed and independent 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission provided a mechanism for the 
application of this approach. While the concept of retro- 
active application of new nonproliferation policy was not 
supported by either the past or present Administration, 



a number of nuclear export licenses have been held up. 

A closely related issue is that of U.S. approval of 
reprocessing or transfers of nuclear material of U.S. 
origin. U.S. cooperation agreements accord the U.S. the 
right to approve retransfers of U.S. origin material from 
the original recipient to any other country, and most such 
agreements also provide the U.S. a limited right of approval 
over reprocessing of U.S. origin material. In general, 
U.S. approval can be withheld only if the reprocessing 
facility cannot be effectively safeguarded. As U.S. views 
on the proliferation risks of reprocessing underwent a 
change, approvals for the reprocessing of U.S. origin 
material, which remained an Executive Branch responsibil- 
ity, began to be withheld or delayed. While there was no 
question that the Agreements allowed the U.S. to dis- 
approve reprocessing if effective safeguards could not be 
applied, other nations complained that the U.S. was uni- 
laterally modifying the standard of judging safeguards 
effectiveness from that foreseen by both parties when 
the agreements were negotiated. r- 

Since 19 75, the Congress had under consideration 
legislation which would establish nuclear export criteria 
and clarify responsibilities of the various government 
agencies involved in the export process. As consideration 
of this legislation advanced, its scope was broadened to 
encompass the whole range of U.S. nohproliferation policy, 



establishing goals and guidelines for Executive Branch 
action in areas such as the negotiation of new cooperation 
agreements, the development of supplier guidelines, and 
the application of sanctions for violations. 

Following lengthy Congressional and public debate and 
intricate negotiations with two Administrations, legis-" 
lation, known as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978, 
was finally adopted by the Congress in February and signed 
by President Carter on March 10. The new law is an extra- 
ordinarily complex one, reflecting as it does nearly three 
years of negotiation and compromise. It does contain pro- 
visions which can be criticized as attempts to modify 
existing international agreements unilaterally through U.S. 
legislation, an approach which was vigorously opposed by 
both the Ford and Carter Administrations. The most im- 
portant of these provisions are a requirement that U.S. 
fuel can be exported only if its reprocessing is subject 
to U.S. approval, and a requirement, effective after an 
18 months grace period, that all facilities in a country 
be subject to IAEA safeguards in order for U.S. fuel "" 
deliveries to take place. The legislation also places 
restriction on granting U.S. approval to reprocess U.S. 
origin material, putting emphasis on the criterion of 
"timely warning" as a basis for allowing such reprocessing 
to take place. 



At the same time, the new legislation strongly re- 
affirms U.S. policy of international nuclear cooperation 
and the intent of the U.S. to remain a reliable supplier 
of nuclear fuel. Toward this end, it contains a number 
of provisions which are designed to expedite the export 
licensing process, including time limits on both Executive 
Branch and NRC action, and calls for the establishment of 
an international fuel bank to provide back-up fuel assurances 
to countries which are in compliance with their nonprolif- 
eration undertakings. Perhaps most importantly, it 
rectifies the former situation under which the Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission held final authority over the issu- 
ance of export licenses by authorizing the President, sub- 
ject to Congressional review, to override NRC license 
denials which he believes will be especially harmful 
to U.S. interests. 

As this brief summary indicates, the new law includes 
both restrictive and positive provisions. It would be 
both erroneous and highly unfortunate to view legislation 
as either "anti-nuclear" or as "anti-export". Its clear 
intent is to facilitate nuclear cooperation under con- 
ditions deemed by the Congress to be prudent from the 
nonproliferation viewpoint. The time for debating the 
merits of the law, which was necessary and proper during 
its lengthy consideration, is at end, and the focus now 
must shift to how it can best be made to fulfill the 



intent of Congress of providing for the futher development 
of nuclear power with maximum security of supply and mini- 
mum risk of proliferation. 

To accomplish this purpose, patience and good will 
will be necessary on all sides. The unique partnership 
which has characterized international nuclear cooperation 
has been of benefit to all parties, and has served the 
objective of nonproliferation well. There is no doubt 
that it can continue to do so within the framework of 
the new U.S. legislation if the opportunities are effectively 

The Future 

While international nuclear cooperation and nonprolif- 
eration policy are in a state of flux, there is encouraging 
movement toward a new consensus. Largely as a result of 
U.S. initiatives of the past year, there is a new recepti- 
vity to change, which provides the essential precondition 
for understanding. 

It is premature to attempt to forecast in detail the 
nature of this consensus: indeed, an essential prerequisite 
for reaching it is that it be the product of broad inter- 
national consultation. Nevertheless, there are certain 
general principles which seem to be emerging as guide- 
lines. The recognition and adoption of these principles 
could facilitate other agreement on details. 



Among these principles are: 

1. National access to plutonium or other weapons- 
useable material should be limited insofar as possible. 
Both technical modifications to the fuel cycle and insti- 
tutional changes to put sensitive facilities and materials 
under direct multinational or international custody can, 
and probably will, play a part in minimizing national 

2. Subject to appropriate restraints on national access 
the energy value of plutonium should be put to use, pre- 
ferably in breeder reactors, in order to make effective 

use of uranium reserves. 

3. To assure that this is done on a timely basis, 
research, development and, when necessary, demonstration 
on various reprocessing and breeder technologies should go 
forward preferably with a constructive U.S. contribution. 

4 . Nuclear fuel supply arrangements of unquestioned 
reliability must be available to countries which meet 
their nonproliferation obligations. 

5. Universal adherence to the NPT, or other means of 
achieving "full scope" safeguards should be the normal 
condition for nuclear supply. 

6. Sanctions against violations of nonproliferation 
undertakings should be made stronger and more credible, 

to help shift the focus of the nonproliferation regime from 



restricting benefits for the many toward penalizing those 
few who may engage in abuses. 

7 . Perhaps most importantly of all, there must be 
forthright acknowledgement of the importance of nuclear 
energy in meeting world energy needs. Ambiguous support 
for nuclear power is not conducive to an environment in 
which the difficult problems which lie ahead can be resolved, 

These broad principles admittedly leave a large 
and difficult area in which agreement must be reached. 
The progress which has been made to date, however, 
provides a basis for optimism that the confidence on 
which nuclear cooperation has been built can be restored 
and that widespread application of nuclear power can pro- 
ceed without contributing to proliferation risks. 


Proposed United States Agenda 
for Proliferation Control 

by Paul L. Leventhal 

Prepared as a background paper for the January 11, 
1977, meeting of the Current Issue Review Group on 
Nuclear Proliferation, Council on Foreign Relations. 
This paper is not to be reproduced, quoted, or cited 
without the permission of the author. 

Leventhal, Paul. Proposed United States agenda for proliferation 
control, prepared as a background paper for the January 
11,1977, meeting of the Current Issue Review Group on 
Nuclear Proliferation, Council on Foreign Relations. 
Paper reproduced with permission of author. 


Paul L. Leventhal January 11, 1977 


Basic Assumptions 

Underlying this proposed agenda of United States non-proliferation 

initiatives are four basic assumptions: 

(18 to 36 months) 
First , It Is assumed that little time/remains to establish 

controls over national and International nuclear commerce that are sufficient 

to reverse, or at least to slow, the present spread of nuclear weapons 


Second , It Is assumed that achievement of an effective control 
system Is not beyond the mind or the Institutions of man; 

Third , it Is assumed that there never has been a more opportune 
time for the United States to exercise diplomatic and commercial leadership 
for the establishment of such a system, and that a successful system cannot 
be developed without strong United States leadership. And, 

Fourth , It is assumed that the major obstacle to achieving this 

system Is an "Institutional bllndspot" a collective form of "denial" 

within the nuclear bureaucracy and the industry with respect to the 
inherently world -threatening and unmanageable character of the nuclear 
fuel cycle. 

This last problem is largely attributable to the promotional 
mandate of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, which resulted in the United States de- 
veloping nuclear pover domestically and worldwide to the exclusion of 



potentially rival energy technologies. The ensuing Atoms for Peace 
program has been based on the assumption that civilian nuclear power 
is, or can be made, safe In all respects. Including the fuel cycle, 
and should be permitted to evolve Into an Inexhaustible energy source. 

However, an effective non-proliferation regime would 

have to limit nuclear power development to some extent probably to 

the extent of limiting reactor development to the present light- and 
heavy-water reactors. This Is anathma to the nuclear agencies and 
Industry which do not perceive an unmanageable world threat In the 
tens of thousands of pounds of plutonlum presently associated with these 
reactors, and the tens of millions of pounds projected for a breeder 
economy by the year 2000. 

Inherent In the Atoms for Peace program is the concept of an 
indefinitely enduring nuclear fuel cycle. This concept, and the 
technology it has produced, conflicts directly with the non-proliferation 
interest in limiting nuclear power to an interim energy source. 

The United States cannot provide effective leadership in 
combatting proliferation unless there is an unambiguous change In U.S. 
policy and policy assumptions- — at least to the extent of forestalling 
plutonlum reprocessing and breeder development until an urgent energy 
need is clear' demonstrated in the next century. 

The key to non-proliferation is controlling where the world 
is headed by promoting those nuclear technologies that are clearly 
manageable, while curbing development and export of those technologies 
that are not. This effort should be tied closely to crash programs for 
non-nuclear energy development and for energy conservation, and these 
programs, particularly energy R & D, should be tailored to meet the needs 

of the developing world. 

The following agenda proposes a series of United States 



lnitiatives at hone and abroad Involving close coordination among the 
Executive Branch, the Congress, the regulatory agencies and the nuclear 
Industry. It assumes strong Presidential leadership and close Congressional 
and regulatory scrutiny to ensure that the proposed policies and programs 
axe carried out. 

In particular, the agenda assumes that a proliferated world 
would be a disaster for the United States and for mankind and that the 
way to assure a proliferated world is to assume its inevitability. 


General Approach 

Generally, the United States should move swiftly and forcefully 

on the non-proliferation front to capitalize on the momentum that has been 

generated by an increasingly aroused Congress, by the campaign statements 

of the President-Elect , by the environmentalist inteventions in nuclear 

fuel export licensing cases, by the Fri Report and, finally, by the 

Presidential policy pronouncement of October 28. 

The hardening American line has had a direct bearing on the 

recent French and West German decisions to withhold future exports of 

reprocessing plants, on India's willingness to negotiate the return of 

spent fuel to the United States, on South Korea's cancellation of a 

French reprocessing plant, on Taiwan's apparent suspension of a national 

reprocessing effort, and on the recent positions taken by the Soviet 

Union, Finland and Canada favoring broader application of IAEA safeguards. 

The United States obviously still wields enormous Influence in the 

world nuclear market even though its share of reactor sales has eroded 

from 70Z to 50Z. 



There have been few signs since the election, however, chat 
the new U.S. policy Is being vigorously pursued In the bureaucracy or 
In the Carter camp,. and there are some Indications that It Is not. If 
other governments are not to Interpret this Inactivity as a sign of 
lack of priority or of resolve, there should be early U.S. Initiatives 
to follow through on the Carter and Ford statements. 

In order of priority, the United States should take the 
following actions: 

1. Spent fuel. Press for prompt agreement among the suppliers 
to require that all commercial spent fuel, Including the suppliers' own, 
be removed to international depositories for storage in unaltered form, 
pending final resolution of the reprocessing and breeder questions. Until 
the depositories are established, seek a supplier agreement to withhold approval* of 
any movement or alteration of spent fuel that is generated domestically 
or by foreign customers. A survey should be begun for sites in neutral 
nations and on suitable off-shore islands that would be dedicated to the 
IAEA or to a new INTELSAT-type organization. Big-power or UN security 
guarantees would apply to each site. Switzerland, which is now seeking 
U.S. permission to forward spent fuel to France for reprocessing, should 
be persuaded to retain the fuel, to forego reprocessing and to enlarge 
its storage capacity to serve as the first international spent-fuel 
depository. To help meet environmental concerns In Switzerland and in 
other densely populated European nations, the United States should 
follow up on President Ford's offer to provide an international storage 
site preferably an island. 



2. Foci-facility exports. Maintain the pressure on Pakistan to 
cancel its reprocessing plant order with Prance and on Brazil to cancel 
its order for reprocessing and enrichment plants from Germany. At the 
same time, move to formalize into a new supplier guideline the recent 
French and German policies barring future fuel-facility sales. 

3. Fuel -cycle and reactor-sales arrangements. Offer to enter 
Into market-sharing arrangements with the suppliers group to ensure 

the supply of fuel services rather than fuel facilities to reactor customers 
and to eliminate the cutthroat competition in reactor sales that led to 
the original offering of fuel facilities by Prance and Germany. These 
arrangements can lead to an assured supply (a five- or 10-year stockpile at 
a minimum) of low-enriched uranium to customers that agree to forswear 
nuclear explosions and to accept IAEA safeguards on all of their nuclear 
activities. This uranium could be provided bilaterally or brokered 
through the IAEA as a credit against plutonium contained In spent fuel 
that is placed in international depositories. The suppliers also can 
agree under such arrangements to modify the design of export reactors 
to bar the use of mixed-oxide fuel (containing plutonium) . 


4. Universal application of IAEA safeguards. Strongly support 
the Soviet proposal at the suppliers conference to require, as a condition 
of export, that non-weapons countries accept IAEA safeguards on all 
activities, but press for the Canadian version, which requires a no- 
explosion pledge as well. Inasmuch as the Canadians have adopted this 
policy unilaterally, the United States may be required to let the 
•trict Canadian conditions apply to exports of Canadian-source uranium 
that is enriched in the U.S. 

5. Nuclear Test Ban. Vigorously pursue President-Elect Carter's 
commitment to negotiate a comprehensive test ban treaty with the Soviet 
Union and to urge the Russians to join in a total ban of all nuclear 
explosions, including so-called "peaceful nuclear devices," for at least 
five years. Without such a superpower example, non-NPT nations, 
particularly India, have a built-in excuse for not forgoing nuclear- 
explosion programs. 

6. Renegotiation of Agreements. Promptly renegotiate nuclear 
agreements, particularly with non-NPT nations, to require the return or the 
international deposit of spent fuel, to bar nuclear explosions, to require 
IAEA safeguards on all nuclear activities, to make available to the U.S. 
the results of IAEA Inspections and material-balance audits, to prevent 
replication of U.S. -supplied technology" or re-export of U.S. -supplied 


aaterial outside the reach of IAEA safeguards, and to establish minimum 
physical-security standards. Most U.S. nuclear agreements do not contain 
such provisions, and the loopholes should be closed even in the absence 
of a prior suppliers agreement. 

7. lton-proliferation legislation. Enact strong legislation 

establishing strict criteria to govern U.S. nuclear export policy 

—at a minimum requiring U.S. prior approval of reprocessing of U.S.- 

supplied fuel or of other fuel burned in a U.S. -supplied reactor. Such 

prior approval should be triggered by a finding that safeguards are 

a weapons-quantity of 
adequate to detect a diversion of/plutonium at least 90 days before it 

can be placed in a weapon a finding that experts generally agree cannot 

be made under present technology. The legislation should strengthen the 
Independent export-licensing role of the NRC, the advisory role of ACDA, 
and it should amend the Atomic Energy Act to promote the sale of non- 
nuclear energy systems abroad. 

8. Middle East. Delay submitting to Congress the pending 
nuclear agreements with Egypt and Israel, both non-NPT nations, at 
least until they can be renegotiated to require safeguards on all nuclear 
activities and on all nuclear materials produced after the agreement 
takes effect. This would permit Israel to retain unsaf eguarded plutonium 
already obtained from its Dimona research reactor, but would freeze 

its weapon-making potential at the present level. It would be preferable 
to withhold all nuclear exports from the Middle East until a peace 
settlement can be reached. At any rate, an agreement with Iran should 
be delayed until alternative energy options, particularly natural gas, 
are explored and until Iran agrees to forego reprocessing in return for 
an assured supply of enriched uranium. 


9. India. Seek to dissuade the Soviet Union from proceeding 
with an export of heavy water to India to take the place of material 
withheld by Canada and the United States following India's nuclear 
explosion. In return for Soviet cooperation, the United States could 
agree to withhold the pending shipment of low-enriched uranium to India 
to permit a joint effort by the superpowers to persuade India 

at least to accept IAEA safeguards on all future nuclear activities 
and to return all spent fuel produced thus far with outside assistance. 
Such an effort would be in keeping with the recent Soviet proposal at 
the suppliers conference. 

10. Sensitive Technologies. Announce an Indefinite delay of 
plutonlum reprocessing and breeder development within the United States 
and urge the other suppliers to follow suit, pending further study. 
Export of high-enriched uranium and plutonlum in support of these programs 
should be stopped, or at least made contingent on an agreement by recipients 
not to export breeders, plutonlum or mixed -oxide fuel. Development of 
laser-separation and of fusion-reactor technologies should be substantially 
•lowed, preferably in concert with other suppliers, until the proliferation 
risks can be fully assessed. 

11. Strengthening IAEA safeguards. Embark on a major program of 

financial and technical assistance, in coordination with other suppliers, 

to establish a more uniform, less secret* safeguards system. In particular, 

IAEA inspectors should be better trained, less subject to intimidation 

by host countries, operate under a uniform bookkeeping system and have 

unlimited access to the facilities they visit. Remote-control cameras and 

tamper-proof seals should be installed at the discretion of the IAEA, not 

of the host country, and all details of the so-called subsidiary safeguards 



arrangemencs between the IAEA and a customer country should be known to 
the supplier. The United States should set an example of openness with 
respect to IAEA safeguards that will be applied soon on a voluntary basis 
to U.S. commercial facilities. 

12. Physical security. Press at the suppliers talks for the 

completion of an international convention on physical security of nuclear 

facilities and materials, as proposed by Secretary Kissinger in 1974. 

Use of the IAEA as an escort service for international shipments of 

weapons-grade material should be considered because these are subject to 

national diversions as well as terrorist attack. Participation of the 

NRC in/ physical-security inspection trips abroad should be assured 

so that the Commission has full access to sensitive information needed 

to make export-licensing decisions. 

13. Sanctions. Make clear that explosion of a nuclear device 

by a non-weapons state, or unauthorized reprocessing or enrichment, or 

trade in sensitive nuclear/facilities will result in a cutoff of 

nuclear assistance by the United States, and possibly in other U.S. 

sanctions as well. The United States also should make clear that in 

return for providing a reliable supply of enriched uranium, it expects 

the fullest possible cooperation from suppliers and customers alike 

in attaining non-proliferation objectives. 

Conclusion 5 

Although each of the agenda items is Important, and to a large 
degree interconnected, first priority should be given to the problem of 
taking spent fuel out of national hands and placing it under international 
control. Spent fuel is the key ingredient in any meaningful non-proliferation 
regime because, under present technology, the most feasible weapons route 



for nations and terrorists alike is via plutonium that has been reprocessed 

from spent fuel. This was foreseenwnen the IAEA was established, but the 

agency, lacking supplier support, has not exercised the authority 

contained in its statute to establish and operate spent-fuel depositories, 

As its first of non-proliferation business, the new Administration 


should press hard for a suppliers agreement on spent fuel prior to the 
conference that the IAEA has scheduled next spring in Salzburg on 
multinational fuel centers. If at the conference the suppliers can 
announce an agreement to require that all commercial spent fuel, Including 
their own, be placed in international depositories, the conference then 
could deal directly with the question of spent-fuel storage as its main 
order of business. 

Resistance to International custody of spent fuel is intense^ however, 
among the Europeans and Great Britain, which have their sights fixed on 
the breeder and, therefore, prefer that the Salzburg meeting deal with 
multinational management of reprocessing plants. 

The need for international spent-fuel depositories should be 
obvious, however. Even if reprocessing is forestalled or internationalized, 
every nation that possesses spent fuel will have its own "plutonium mine" 
for future contingencies. This will place it but one step away from having 

atom bomb material a small step in the throes of a regional or world 

crisis. s 

By the year 2000, the present world inventory of 4,000 tons of 
spent fuel will grow 100-fold to 300-500,000 tons, according to an industry 
estimate. The energy equivalent will be 97 billion barrels of oil; the 
weapons equivalent will be 1 million Nagasaki bombs. Two-thirds of the 
material will be outside the United States. 

Spent fuel, therefore, will be a major foreign policy consideration 
in the years ahead. 


Nuclear Proliferation: 

Can Congress 

Act inTime? 

Clarence D. Long 

ihe threat of nuclear 
proliferation can scarcely be overstated. As many as forty countries, typically 
underdeveloped and unstable, may have nuclear weapons capabilities by 1990. 1 
More likely than an all-out nuclear war beginning between superpowers is a 
nuclear exchange between small countries, and a nuclear war anywhere has 
to be assumed to risk escalation to superpower involvement whether by de- 
liberate intervention, or by miscalculation, bluff, or panic. Even between two 
small nations, a nuclear war could result in unprecedented death and destruc- 
tion, with the United States being called upon to supply billions of dollars 
for humanitarian relief, and with environmental damage that would scarcely 
respect borders. 

Paranoia caused by nuclear weapons proliferation would complicate defense 
planning. 2 The United States could be compelled to prepare against a variety of 
threats from numerous challengers, building us a vastly increased nuclear arse- 
nal with no clear strategic purpose. How could the United States signal in advance 
its determination to retaliate with unacceptable damage against a nuclear attack 
if there were no way of identifying the attacker against whom we would then 
retaliate? Such an attack could be delivered by terrorists or in bombs exploded in 
ships of false national registry anchored in our harbors. Indeed, the objective 
could be to provoke us into nuclear war with the wrong nation. 

Damage to our own civil liberties could hardly be avoided. National fright 
typically leads to a huge and pervasive police apparatus. Who can say that our 

1. See the discussion in Albert Wohlstetter et al, Moving Toward Life in a Nuclear Armed 
Crowd?, Report prepared for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA/PAB-263) 
by Pan Heuristics Division of Science Applications, Inc., (Los Angeles, California) Chapter 2, 
especially pp. 36-41. 

2. Industrial nations, such as Japan (if Korea got nuclear weapons) might join in the nuclear 
arms race. 

The author wishes to acknowledge the valuable help of his legislative assistants, Grant W. 
Anderson, Barbara Morrison Reno, and Beth Susan Bloomfield. Any errors of factor or of argu- 
ment are the author's entire responsibility. 

Long, Clarence D. Nuclear Proliferation: Can Con- 
gress act in time? In International Security 1, 
no. 4 (Spring 1977), pp. 52-76. Copyright 1977 
by the President and Fellows of Harvard College 


democratic traditions would survive, considering how they have caved in under 
less pressure in the past? 

This article will show that keeping countries from nuclear power technology, 
with its accompanying potential for producing nuclear weapons, could save money 
for the United States and preserve for the poor nations opportunities to improve 
standards of living and of education — opportunities otherwise lost because de- 
veloping nations, even aided by the United States, cannot afford both high-capital 
nuclear technology and better lives for their people. 

Can the spread of nuclear weapons and technology be stopped — and stopped 
in time? 

Underlying an answer to this question are three premises: 1) As far as tech- 
nical knowledge is concerned, the genie is out of the bottle. 2) The countries with 
the ability to supply technicians, reactor hardware, and nuclear fuel have so many 
conflicting and even devious interests, that any anti-proliferation agreement 
must be at the mercy of the lowest common proliferator, with long delays and more 
loopholes than anti-proliferation clauses. 3) The consequences of nuclear weapon 
proliferation are so fraught with peril that efforts to contain it should go full speed 
ahead even though the superpowers can be blamed for asking others to refrain 
from producing "kilotonnage" when they cannot keep themselves from piling 
up "megatonnage." In any case, so urgent are the problems of both small country 
weapon proliferation and superpower expansion of existing nuclear arsenals that 
the efforts to cut back either one must proceed without waiting for a success- 
ful solution of the other. 

In view of the difficulties of getting cooperation between nuclear and nonnu- 
clear weapon states, are there steps to check proliferation that the United States 
can take unilaterally? Do unilateral steps preclude cooperative agreements later 
on? What are the obstacles, political and economic, domestic and international? 
What is the role .of Congress in United States efforts? How willing is Congress to 
do anything really effective? And in time? 

There are four classes of action that the United States can take to discourage 
nuclear proliferation. First, the United States can stop promoting and subsidizing 
nuclear power exports, keeping in mind that a nuclear power plant is the major 
step to nuclear weaponry. The engineers and physicists needed for nuclear ex- 
plosives would be present in a power program. So also would be the plutonium, 
since the standard size 1 ,000 megawatt power reactor of current design would pro- 
duce annually spent fuel containing 200 kilograms of plutonium — or enough for 
forty small nuclear explosives. All that is required to separate the plutonium from 


the radioactive wastes is a reprocessing plant which, for a modest weapons pro- 
gram, would require as few as eight engineers with standard training and would 
cost as little as $25 million (a small fraction of a power reactor's cost). 3 

Second, the United States can move on many fronts to encourage the use of 
nonnuclear energy, thus providing better energy answers, economic and environ- 
mental. Nations insisting on going nuclear for military reasons could no longer 
wear the cloak of an energy solution. 

Third, the United States can redirect its foreign aid away from nations which 
insist on developing nuclear explosives. Inasmuch as there can never be more 
than a tiny fraction of the foreign aid needed to go around, this redirection would 
be no more than good economics — allocating limited resources to those nations 
in which the aid will do the most good for the least cost. No attempt to steer for- 
eign aid away from less developed countries (LDCs) that use it to finance nuclear 
technology can ignore the fact that much American foreign aid goes out through 
multilateral development banks to such notorious proliferators as India. These 
institutions should be persuaded by the United States to deny loans to nations that 
are using the money directly or indirectly for nuclear proliferation. If American 
influence fails, we can reduce our contributions. 4 

Finally, at the same time the United States can press other nuclear suppliers to 
agree to stop proliferation. Our bids for cooperation would, if anything, be 
strengthened by the above-suggested demonstrations of good faith and good 

United States Subsidy of Nuclear Proliferation 

Most states that have achieved a nuclear weapons capability, other than the Soviet 
Union and the People's Republic of China, have benefited from promotion and 
direct and indirect subsidy by the United States Government. 5 The United States 
has promoted nuclear energy exports principally through the Export-Import Bank. 

3. See Wohlstetter el ai, Moving Toward Life in a Nuclear Armed Crowd?, especially pp. 25-26 
and 35. Also note his article in Foreign rolicy, No. 25 (Winter 1977). For further reference see 
John R. Lamarsh, "On the Extraction of Plutonium from Reactor Fuel by Small and 'or Develop- 
ing Nations." Report prepared for the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, 
July 1976, pp. 11,18,19. 

4. The Long amendment to the International Development Association Act, which passed the 
House on July 2, 1974 and has become law, requires the United States to vote against any loan 
to any country "which develops any nuclear explosive device, unless the country is or becomes 
a State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons." See Section 3 of Public 
Law 93-373. 

5. Of 113 nuclear power reactors exported, the U.S. has exported 60, thus, the U.S. has exported 


Since 1959, the Export-Import Bank has provided loans and guarantees for al- 
most $4.8 billion dollars of exports of nuclear equipment and fuel through sixty- 
eight loans totaling $3.2 billion and thirty-four financial guarantees of $1.6 bil- 
lion in commercial bank lending. 

Commercial banks, with Export-Import Bank guarantees, have provided a sub- 
stantial portion of the funding — generally 40 to 45 percent, and typically are first 
to receive any repayment. In an industry-by-industry calculation for Fiscal Year 
1975, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the Export-Import Bank 
loans for nuclear exports, when compared with sixteen other industries, had the 
longest average terms and received the second highest proportion of subsidy. 

The Export-Import Bank has financed fifty of the sixty nuclear reactor export> 
by the United States; of the ten reactors exported without Export-Import Bank 
financing, only three exports of small reactors for Europe in the 1960s were not 
accompanied by some financial subsidy. 7 Subsidy has been critical to almost all 
American nuclear reactor exports. 

The United States had provided many other forms of financial aid to foreign 
nuclear programs over the last twenty years. This assistance, totalling at least 
$311.8 million as Table 2 shows, has been provided through the Atoms for Peace 
and other programs administered by the Atomic Energy Commission; through 
the Agency for International Development (AID); and through the International 
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 

By 1958, the Atomic Energy Commission had agreements governing American 
nuclear trade and cooperation in force or almost ratified with forty-three coun- 
tries. 8 Under these agreements, the United States exported research reactors with 
nuclear fuel and training to Argentina, Brazil, Taiwan, Iran, Korea, Pakistan, 
Israel, and Spain — all now thought to be interested in having nuclear weapons. 

The cooperative research programs between the United States and the European 

more power reactors than all other nuclear supplier nations put together. Data from "Nuclear 
Power Plants Outside the U.S.," Atomic Industrial Forum, May 1, 1976. Reactors operating, 
under construction, or ordered were included as exports under this calculation. 

6. "The Export-Import Bank: Implications for the Federal Budget and the Credit Market." Start 
Working Paper, Congressional Budget Office, October 27, 1976, pg. 17. 

7. Nuclear Proliferation: Future U.S. Foreign Policy Implications, Hearings before the Subcom- 
mittee on International Security and Scientific Affairs of the_ Committee on International Rela- 
tions, House of Representatives, Ninety-Fourth Congress, First Session, pg. 100. 

8. Warren H. Donnelly, Commercial Nuclear Power in Europe: The Interaction of American 
Diplomacy with a New Technology, Science Policy Research Division, Congressional Research 
Service, December 1972, pg. 32. 

9. "U.S. Financial Assistance in the Development of Foreign Nuclear Energy Programs," Gen- 
eral Accounting Office (Report ID-75-63), May 28, 1975, pg. 10. 


Table 1 

Export-Import Bank of the United States 

Authorizations for Nuclear Power Plants and Training Center Summary By Country From 
Inception through Dec. 31, 1976 ($ Thousands) 

Export Value 


Direct Loans 1 






















1 1 ,220 






























































1 .582,438 





91 ,000 
















Var. European 













Source: Export-Import Bank. 

•Direct Export-Import Bank loans have had the following terms: (1) Total repayment period has 
been about 20 years with no principal repayment during the reactor construction period which has 
increased from 3-4 years in the 1960's to 8-9 years today; (2) interest rates have ranged from 4.5% 
in the late 1940's to 8 3/4% in 1976 with the majority of loans (37 of 63) at a 6% interest rate. 

Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) and between the United States and 
Canada involved assistance to Euratom and to the Canadian development of the 
CANDU heavy water reactor, but the expected benefits differed with each pro- 
gram. The goal of the United States-EURATOM Program, which included two 
of the four deferred-payment nuclear fuel contracts, (twenty-year loans at 4 per- 
cent interest including a ten-year grace period on principal repayments) was to 
persuade the Europeans to adopt American light-water reactor technology, so that 
American nuclear suppliers would benefit from exports; instead, it helped create 
the international competition which now threatens United States nuclear export 
markets. The goal of the United States-Canadian Program was to upgrade the 



Direct Loans 

Eximbank Financial Guarantees 


No. of 











$ - 

































































21 ,400 
























































quality of United States research in heavy water reactors by taking advantage of 
Canadian expertise. 10 Instead, the Canadian reactors also began to compete with 
United States exports. 11 

Most of the AID assistance to other nuclear programs has gone to India for the 

10. Division of International Affairs, Energy Research and Development Administration, Jan- 
uary 5, 1977. 

11. The Canadian CANDU reactors also have complicated anti-proliferation efforts because their 
continuous refueling makes them more difficult to safeguard than U.S. type reactors. See 
answer by the Department of State to question 11 of Senator Glenn. Export Reorganization Act 
of 1976, Hearings before the Committee on Government Operations, United States Senate 
Ninety-Fourth Congress, Second Session on S. 1439, pg. 845. 

37-189 O - 79 - 19 


Table 2 

Other U.S. Aid to Nuclear Programs 1953-77 


AEC Atoms for Peace 


Grants for research reactors 
Grants for research equipment 

Funding/No. of countries 

$9.0 million (26) 
$2.7 million (19) 

Joint Research 

To encourage Europe to adopt 
US reactor technology 

$28 million (6) 

AEC Deferred-pay- 
ment fuel contracts 

Part of U.S.-EURATOM Joint 
Research program 

$88.8 million (3) 

U.S.-Canada Joint 
Research Program 

Share research on heavy water 
reactor technology 

$6 million (1) 


Capital, technical, and program 

$83.3 million (27) 

(Of this amount, $72 million 

went to India for the Tarapur 


U.S. contributions to 
the IAEA 

Promotion of peaceful uses of 
nuclear energy 

$93.1 million 

(Estimate of U.S. contribu- 
tions for non-safeguards 
activities-80% of total U.S. 

Various Activities 

International nuclear training, 
educational programs, conferences 
and exhibits 

No funding data available 

Total additional U.S. contributions to other countries' 
nuclear programs 

$310.9 million 

Sources: "U.S. Financial .Assistance in the Development of Foreign Nuclear Energy Programs," 
General Accounting Office, May 28, 1975; Bureau of International Organizations, Department of 
State; Division of International Affairs, Energy Research and Development Administration. 


Tarapur nuclear power plant (92 percent of total AID nuclear assistance to India), 
but twenty-six countries have benefited from AID-financed nuclear training, re- 
actor parts, nuclear material, and heavy water. The recipients have also included 
those reportedly near nuclear weapons: Israel, Korea, Pakistan, Spain, Taiwan, 
Iran, and Brazil. 12 

United States support for the IAEA has helped substantially to spread nuclear 
technology, in spite of the supposed safeguards. Although the IAEA was con- 
ceived by President Eisenhower as a repository of all the world's nuclear weapon 
material in order to reduce pressure for proliferation, 13 most of its budget and 
activities since 1958 have gone to promote nuclear activities; its safeguard func- 
tion is understaffed and underfunded. 14 

Furthermore, the United States has trained almost 13,500 foreign nationals 
since 1955 in nuclear physics and related fields. As part of our contribution to- 
ward creating the world's newest nuclear power, since 1955 the United States has 
trained 1,367 Indian technicians. 15 

Between 1970 and 1975, the United States trained nearly 1,500 nationals of 
forty-one countries in nuclear reactor technology, plutonium recycle reproces- 
sing, uranium enrichment, and related crucial disciplines, the overwhelming major- 
ity (1,300) for nations with sophisticated nuclear programs and therefore tech- 
nically near nuclear explosive capability. Table 3 provides a breakdown by 
country and category (showing proximity to explosive capabilities) of the 
numbers receiving training: 

Particularly significant for weapons development is that the United States trained 
scientists for seven nations in plutonium recycling/reprocessing, including Tai- 
wan, Spain, and India. 

12. "U.S. Financial Assistance in the Development of Foreign Nuclear Energy Programs/' Export 
Reorganization Act,vg. 10. 

13. Donnelly, Commercial Nuclear Power in Europe, pg. 47. 

14. According to the table, "Summary of Estimated Programme Resources 1977," by the Inter- 
national Atomic Energy Agency, the safeguards budget accounts for only 18% of the regular 
budget and only 14% of "total estimated resources." 

For additional discussion of the International Atomic Energy Agency, see the following 

Hearings of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Related' Agencies of the Committee 
on Appropriations, House of Representatives, FY 1977, Part 2, pp. 577-597. See especially pg. 
578 and the statement by Ambassador Gerald Tape, U.S. Representative to the International 
Atomic Energy Agency, that the IAEA, as of April 1976, would have 50 inspectors to inspect 
400 nuclear installations. 

Export Reorganization Act of 1976, pp. 533-75*6 and related appendices. See especially 
testimony of J. Kenneth Fasick, Director, International Division, General Accounting Office, pp. 

15. Letter February 2, 1977 from International Affairs Division, ERDA. 


Table 3 

Training of Foreign Personnel in the United States (1970-75) 

(In reactor technology, plutonium recycle/reprocessing, uranium enrichment and related disciplines) 


Number of 


Trained Nation 

Category 0/0+ 

(Nations which have nuclear weapons/ 

Great Britain 





Category I 

(Nations with full access to weapons- 
grade material and with broad-based 
technology support): 



Germany (West) 




South Africa 












Category II 

(Nations with limited weapons-grade 
material sources and some nuclear 
technology program): 








Korea (ROK) 



















Category III 

(Remainder of nations): 







Hong Kong 





Saudi Arabia 




Vietnam (South) 


Number of 




Sources: "List of Foreign Nationals Trained in Selected Disciplines at AEC/ERDA Facilities," 
Jan. 1 1970 December 13, 1975, provided to Rep. Clarence D. Long by Nelson F. Sievenng, Jr., 
Assistant Administrator for International Affairs, ERDA, September 3, 1976 

Categories derived from Moving Toward Life in a Nuclear Armed Crowd, Albert Wohlstetter et al., 
Report prepared for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency by Pan Heuristics, Inc., (April 22, 
1976), pp. 39 42. 

Table printed in Congressional Record, September 22, 1976, pg. H 10856. 


The India case illustrates the "vvrongheadedness" of American policy. More than 
ten years ago, India was known to have a reprocessing plant not under interna- 
tional safeguards, but the AEC recommended nevertheless that the United States 
provide "encouragement and assistance toward the recycle of plutonium produced 
in India's nuclear power plants," at the same time making the Orwellian assertion 
that such help was "of direct pertinence to encouragement of peaceful uses and 
deterrence of military uses." 10 The reverse, of course, was true; the weapons-^radc 
plutonium that comes from reprocessing can as well be used for nuclear explosives 
as for nuclear fuel. 17 

Concern over continuing the American training of foreign nationals in nuclear 
technology led the House of Representatives during the consideration of the Ex- 
port Administration Act Amendments (H.R. 15377) in September 1976, to adopt 
the Fraser-Long amendment, calling for a six-month study by the Executive 
Branch on the extent to which 

the education and training of foreign nationals within the United States in nu- 
clear engineering and related fields contribute to the proliferation of explosive 
nuclear devices or the development of a capability of producing explosive nuclear 
devices. 18 

Ford Administration opposition prevented the Senate from going to conference 
and the provision was not enacted. 

To illustrate the crucial role played by the United States in underwriting the 
spread of nuclear technology around the world, Table 4 lists five categories of 
American aid given to twenty-two low-income near-nuclear countries. 

Nuclear power has been further disseminated around the world by the United 
States subsidy of its domestic nuclear industry. The large accumulations of spent 
nuclear fuel which may be reprocessed into plutonium intensifies the threat of 
weapons spread. Thus, the United States has sent abroad the doubtful word that 
nuclear power is a most modern and inevitable form of energy. Worse, the creation 

16.' Abraham S. Friedman and Myron B. Kratzer, "Visit of Indian AEC Chairman and Thorium 
and Accelerator Teams," Atomic Energy Commission memorandum. September 1966, Exhibit 
E of the Submission of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.. The Sierra Club and the 
Union of Concerned Scientists for the July 20. 1976 hearing on the Proposed Export of Special 
Nuclear Material to India, before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

17. Furthermore, with trained scientists, even if the reprocessing were done outside of the re- 
cipient country (such as in a multinational reprocessing facility), and only fuel rods containing 
mixture of plutonium and uranium were imported,, the recipient country could still separate the 
plutonium from the mixed-oxide fuel rods and could do so more quickly and inexpensively than if 
it had to reprocess irradiated fuel. See Albert Wohlstetter. "Spreading the Bomb Without Quite 
Breaking the Rules," Foreign Policy, No. 25 (Winter 1977). 

18. Congressional Psccord, September 22, 1976, pg. H-10855. 

Table 4 


Country 1 

Ex-lm Bank ($ Millions) 
Direct Loans Guarantees 

AEC Sensitive AID 

Assistance 2 Material Funding 4 Personnel 

(Thousands) Supplied 3 (Thousands) Trained 5 














South Africa 

South Korea 









$ 1 

$ .5 




$ 9 

$ 1 

$ .1 
$ 61 



$ 29 





























































$ 66 




$ 4 


$ 170 




$ 141 


$ 36 


$ 80 




$ 1,675 


$ 447 






$ 87 


$ 194 


$ 33 


$ 267 


$ 451 


$ 6 




$ 104 


Sources: Export-Import Bank. 

"U.S. Financial Assistance in the Development of Foreign Nuclear Energy Programs," General 

Accounting Office, Report Number ID-75-63. (May 28, 1975). 

Export Reorganization Act of 1976, Hearings of the Committee on Government Operations, U.S. 

Senate, Ninety-Fourth Congress, Second Session, on S. 1439, p. 18-19 and p. 813. 

Letter February 2, 1977 from Norman H. Brand, Chief, Visits and Assignments Branch, Office of 

International Program Implementation, International Affairs Division, ERDA. 

1 . The list of countries was derived from the Wohlstetter Report, Moving Toward Life in a Nuclear 
Armed Crowd?, pp 36-37 and 39-40. Several countries which had received research reactors from 
the United States, were also included. Most European and developed nations were not included in 
order to provide a list of the small, lower-income countries generally discussed as the most likely 
new nuclear powers. South Africa is not a low-income country but was included because it is often 
mentioned as interested in developing nuclear weapons. 

2. AEC assistance was provided under the Atoms-for-Peace program and included grants for research 
reactors and other nuclear research equipment. 

3. Sensitive material includes uranium with 20 percent or more uranium-235, Plutonium, uranium- 
233, and heavy water. The designation "L" signifies a large quantity of sensitive material, and the 
designation "S" signifies a small quantity. The significance of uranium-235, uranium-233, and 
Plutonium is that all three substances can be used to make nuclear weapons. The significance of 
heavy water is that it can be used as a moderator in a reactor fueled with natural uranium, which is 
easier to obtain than enriched uranium fuel. India used a heavy-water-moderated research reactor 
to obtain the plutonium for its nuclear explosive, and the United States provided 10 tons heavy 
water for that reactor. 

If a country received more than 10 kilograms of uranium with 20 percent or more uranium-235 
or more than 10 tons of heavy water, it was designated "L". If not, it was designated "S". No 
country received more than 700 grams of plutonium or more than 5 grams of uranium-233. 


of a sizable nuclear industry has set in place powerful interests among industry, 
labor, and the universities that bitterly oppose any nuclear restraints as a threat 
to their investments, their jobs, and their consulting fees. The nuclear industry, 
the Atomic Energy Commission (now the Energy Research and Development Ad- 
ministration), and the Joint Atomic Energy Committee have so far stymied ef- 
forts to restrain nuclear proliferation. Domestic subsidies have ranged from direct 
government expenditures, to tax breaks, to below-cost charges for nuclear fuel and 
waste disposal. 

The Past Role of Congress 

The "peaceful" nuclear explosive detonated by India in May 1974 aroused the 
House of Representatives to a spate of legislative activity, including the passage 
of an amendment to the International Development Association (IDA) Authoriza- 
tion bill requiring the United States representatives to the International Develop- 
ment Association to vote against any loans to India. la At about the same time, 
the House passed (194 to 191) an amendment to the International Nuclear Agree- 
ments Congressional Review Act (H.R. 15582), requiring prior congressional 
approval of all nuclear agreements. The amendment was thrown out in the House- 
Senate Conference of the Joint Atomic Energy Committee (a mock conference in 
which the Committee met with itself), even though the Senate had almost passed 
a similar amendment. 20 

The Indian explosion prompted other bills, amendments, and statements on 
the House and Senate floors. The FY 1975 Foreign Aid Authorization bill, passed 
in December 1974 and now public law, contained a provision prohibiting the 
use of funds for nuclear reactors or nuclear reactor fuel for Egypt or Israel. Also 

19. Congressional Record, July 2, 1974, pg. H-6140, Rep. Clarence D. Long's amendment to 
H.R. 15465. 

20. Congressional Record, July 10, 1974, pg. S-12116, amendment offered by Senator Proxmire 
to S. 3698 (H.R. 15582). For Long amendment to H.R. 15582, see Congressional Record. July 31, 
1974, pg. H-7434 and H-7443 and Congressional Record, August 20, 1974, pg. E-5583-E-55S5. 

Table 4 notes (cont.) 

4. AID funding includes capital assistance and technicat assistance financing of foreign nuclear 
energy projects and activities cumulative as of September 30, 1974, and also, program assistance 
financing of nuclear equipment and materials from July 1968-Juns, 1974. AID has not funded 
foreign nuclear programs since 1974. 

5. Personnel trained from 1955 to date. Data from Office of Assistant Administrator for Interna- 
tional Affairs, ERDA, February 1977. 


included in the 1975 authorization was an amendment earmarking funds for the 
much-needed strengthening of IAEA safeguards. 21 

These modest steps paved the way for a heightened sensitivity to nuclear pro- 
liferation in the last months of the 94th Congress. Environmentalists and public 
interest groups set out to awaken the public and alert key Congressmen and 
Senators to the danger. In March 1976, Representative Richard Ottinger took the 
lead in criticizing continued United States nuclear fuel shipments to India. His 
efforts and those of interested organizations resulted in the first public hearings 
(July 1976) on a United States nuclear export license. The Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission suspended further nuclear fuel shipments to India until more effec- 
tive nuclear safeguards could be devised. 

Any efforts by Congress to stop promoting nuclear energy/weapon prolifer- 
ation owed nothing to its leadership, the Ford Administration, or to the Joint 
Committee on Atomic Energy. This Committee, the only joint committee of 
Congress with legislative authority, sought to block or gut every congressional 
attempt at strong nonproliferation measures, thus continuing to demonstrate 
that it was more responsive to the industry and to the Executive than to the 
Congress. Indeed, until March 1976, the Joint Committee had held only one hear- 
ing on nuclear proliferation in five years, and, of the seven nuclear export measures 
reported by the Joint Committee between 1971 and 1976, five authorized increases 
in exports and none undertook seriously to limit exports. 

In the Senate, the Committee on Government Operations under the leadership 
of Senator Abraham Ribicoff, undertook a two-year effort to draft legislation to 
combat nuclear proliferation. The Joint Atomic Energy Committee opposed Ribi- 
coff's effort under the guise of jurisdictional questions. The Government Oper- 
ations Committee's work during 1975 and 1976 was largely responsible for the 
drafting of S. 3770 (H.R. 15273), the Nuclear Explosive Proliferation Control Act 
of 1976, which set forth a comprehensive national proliferation policy. 22 Senator 
Stuart Symington succeeded in adding to the International Security Assistance 
and Arms Control Export Act of 1976 an amendment to cut off foreign aid to coun- 
tries receiving sensitive nuclear fuel reprocessing or enrichment facilities; how- 

21. "Foreign Assistance Act of 1974," Public Law 93-559, enacted December 30, 1974, Section 
9 (a) (1) (g) and Section 43. 

22. See the following sources: 

The Export Reorganization Act — 1^75, Hearings before the Committee on Government Oper- 
ations, United States Senate, Ninety-Fourth Congress, First Session; The Export Reorganization 
Act of 1^76; and Peaceful Nuclear Exports and Weapons Proliferation, A Compendium, prepared 
for the Committee on Government Operations, United States Senate, April 1975. 


ever, the amendment was weakened in House-Senate Conference to allow the 
President to waive the prohibition on aid under certain circumstances. 23 

Increasing disenchantment with the Joint Committee in 1976 was indicated 
in the House by the support generated by the Long proposal to set up a Select Com- 
mittee on Nuclear Proliferation and Nuclear Export Policy. House Resolution 951 
had 143 House sponsors, including Morris Udall, John Brademas, Philip Burton, 
and Peter Rodino, and the endorsements of the many national organizations con- 
cerned over nuclear proliferation. 24 

In the final days of the 94th Congress, the Joint Committee killed two bills 
which had been reported favorably by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 
and the Senate Government Operations Committee. The version of the Nuclear 
Explosive Proliferation Control Act of 1976 (H.R. 15419) reported by the Joint 
Committee was gutted by Administration amendments accepted in the Joint Com- 
mittee without debate. 2 '' 

The 94th Congress adjourned on October 1, 1976, without enacting any of the 
following nonproliferation proposals: 

Four related bills (S. 3770, two versions of H.R. 15419, and the Percy substi- 
tute for S. 3770) to establish a national nonproliferation policy with supporting 
international negotiations and limitations on American nuclear exports. 

An amendment to the ERDA Authorization bill (Sec. 201 of H.R. 13350) to 
restrict the export of enriched uranium to countries that have not ratified the Nu- 
clear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

23. Public Law 94-329, enacted June 30, 1976, Section 305, pp. 27-28. See also "Conference Report 
on International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976," Ninety-Fourth Con- 
gress, Second Session, House Report 94-1272, pp. 53-54. 

24. The endorsements from outside Congress were as follows: 

David Lilienthal, First Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission; Jeremy Stone, Director, Feder- 
ation of American Scientists; Common Cause; Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy; Sierra 
Club; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Friends of the Earth; Environmental Policy- 
Center; Ralph Nader's Congress Watch; National Taxpayers Union; The National Council of 
Churches; The Jesuit Office of Social Ministries; The Independent Phi Beta Kappa Environmen- 
tal Study Group; Citizens Rights Committee; Women Strike for Peace; Council for a Livable 
World; United Auto Workers; Network. 

25. H.R. 15419, as reported, removed most obstacles to nuclear deals such as those between 
Germany and Brazil and between France and Pakistan; had no requirment that loopholes in ex- 
isting nuclear agreements between the U.S. and other countries be closed; delayed any U.S. 
action to tighten nuclear export controls until all nations agreed to the stronger system, thus 
making any strengthened system a dead letter; and hobbled Congress' ability to scrutinize a 
presidential decision to overturn a Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruling against a nuclear 
export license by eliminating the requirements for 60-days notice and a detailed explanation of 
the President's decision. For further information, see Rep. George E. Brown, Jr., "Additional 
Views (Dissenting) on H.R. 15419, as amended," House Report 94-1613, pp. 55-60. 


An attempt to add nuclear export limitations and restrictions on nuclear fuel 
reprocessing to the Export Administration Act Amendments (the Zablocki-Find- 
ley provision, Section 18 of H.R. 15537). 

An amendment (Fraser-Long amendment) to the Export Administration Act 
Amendments which had passed the House, to require a study of American nuclear 
training of foreign nationals. 

House Resolution 951 to establish a House Select Committee on Nuclear Prolif- 
eration and Nuclear Export Policy. 

The joint Committee on Atomic Energy had come to be seen as a major road- 
block to a strong policy of nuclear export restraint. After the close of the 94th 
Congress, retirements and defeats greatly altered the Joint Committee's make-up, 
especially on the Senate side, and set the stage, along with the recommendation 
of the Senate Committee on Committees, for further action to curb its power. 

To do this, Representative Jonathan Bingham (D-NY), with my help and that 
of Representative Ottinger and others, led a successful fight in the 95th Democrat- 
ic Caucus of early December 1976 to amend the House rules to strip legislative 
authority from the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and transfer its jurisdiction 
to several standing committees in the House, with the nuclear export responsibil- 
ities going to the Committee on International Relations. This action was ratified 
by the full House when it convened on January 4, 1977. 

Legislation for the 95tli Congress to End Export Promotion 

Major reforms, based on the stronger bills from the 94th Congress are now being 
drafted, 20 and action can be expected on those bills as well as on several bilateral 
nuclear agreements and on certain applications for export licenses now pending 
before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

The following is an outline of nine general legislative proposals to insure that 

26. Principal provisions of nonproliferation legislation would probably include: strengthened 
licensing criteria to be applied immediately by the U.S. to all its nuclear exports; provisions for 
international negotiations to establish strengthened nuclear export conditions by all nuclear sup- 
pliers, procedures to be followed in the event a nation violates its agreement with a nuclear sup- 
plier nation, and procedures to be follrovcd in the event of diversion, theft or sabotage of nuclear 
materials; the closing of loopholes in U.S. bilateral nuclear agreements with other nations 
through renegotiation of those agreements; provisions for adequate participation by Congress 
in examining nuclear agreements for cooperation and amendments thereto, including a non- 
proliferation .'isessmcnt statement on nuclear exports by the Arms- Control and Disarmament 
Agency; and increased support to the safeguards efforts of the International Atomic EnergN 
Agency (IAEA). 


nuclear exports from the United States do not get financial assistance from the 

1. Amend the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945 to prohibit loans or guarantees 
for nuclear reactors, fuel, heavy water, or other nuclear related items. 

2. Amend the Foreign Assistance Act to deny aid to any country to purchase 
nuclear reactors, fuel, and technology, and to deny guarantees or insurance (such 
as those of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation) for the same purpose. 

3. Amend the Foreign Assistance Act, the Export-Import Bank' Act, the Agri- 
cultural Trade Development and Assistance Act (Food for Peace Program), the 
Arms Export Control Act, the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act, and any 
other aid legislation to reduce the foreign aid credits, or guarantees, to the 
extent that the recipient country is spending on expanding its nuclear power 
capacity. Such action would prevent our foreign aid and other resources from be- 
ing used indirectly to finance nuclear exports (through the fungibility of foreign 
exchange and financial resources). 

4. Instruct the American representatives to the multilateral development banks 
and to United Nations aid programs to oppose aid to countries with expanding 
nuclear programs and to advocate that the banks advise against nuclear power. 
Investigate the desirability of ending American contributions to the multilateral 
development banks and United Nations aid programs if such policies against nu- 
clear power are not adopted. 

5. Enact legislation requiring a study of the effect of American nuclear training 
of foreign nationals at government facilities or in private universities on the 
spread of nuclear weapons. Amend the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to require 
the full cost of such training to be paid by the government whose national is to 
be trained. 

6. Investigate the extent to which American nuclear firms are supporting for- 
eign subsidiaries either by supplying nuclear reactors for their foreign home mar- 
kets or in exporting American-licensed nuclear technology to third countries. 

7. Provide the Nuclear Regulatory Commission with power to license the trans- 
fer by American businesses of nuclear technology or know-how. Further require 
that public hearings on such transfers to other countries be held if requested and 
that the Congress receive sixty-day notice of such transfers, during which the 
Congress could act to disapprove. — 

8. Instruct the Executive Branch to propose that the IAEA separate the funding 
of promotional and safeguards activities with a view to confining all United 
States funding to the safeguards budget. 


9. Amend Title V of the Trade Act of 1974, which provides preferences for de- 
veloping countries, to prohibit duty-free treatment for goods of any developing 
countries which expand their nuclear power programs. 

Ending all these government subsidies would not, of course, forbid private 
financing. It is difficult however, to see how private financing would long con- 
tinue without subsidies in view of the doubtful profit prospects. For those who 
profess faith that the profits are there, but perhaps hidden or in the future^here is 
a chance to prove that faith by putting up their own money. 

A major objection certain to be raised against curbing United States subsidy 
of nuclear energy /weapon proliferation is its economic cost. This bears some 
resemblance to the objection that abolishing disease will have an adverse econom- 
ic impact on doctors and nurses. Elimination of nuclear proliferation would in 
any case, be desirable, even without the nuclear weapon issue, simply because nu- 
clear power is economically inappropriate for developing nations, as will be noted 

Appropriate Energy Sources for Devclopirig Countries 

For many reasons, nuclear power is economically inappropriate for developing 

1. Nuclear power requires excessive amounts of capital and managerial skill, 
both of which are expensive and in short supply in the developing world. 

2. Nuclear power diverts scarce resources from roads, schools, hospitals, irri- 
gation projects, fertilizers, agricultural implements, and housing. 

3. Nuclear power lures the poor countries — as it does the rich — from the search 
for energy sources (including renewable ones) which are less costly in capital and 
less damaging to the environment. 

4. Nuclear power is centrally generated, and, without additional large capital 
expenditures, cannot be distributed to the rural poor, who are scattered over wide 
distances and often over rugged terrain. 

5. The average nuclear power plant — 1,000 megawatts — is too large for the 
electric grids of most developing nations and, if shut down, could not be replaced 
readily by auxiliary power sources." 7 So many energy eggs in one basket makes 
the power supply vulnerable to sabotage or breakdown, especially in view of the 
shortage of highly skilled maintenance personnel. 

27. Richard 1 Barber Associates, Inc., LDC Nuclcur Power Prospects, i l '."5-/ l > l '0: Commercial. 
Economic and Security Implications," report prepared for ERDA, pg. 11-8. 


If nuclear energy is economically inappropriate for developing countries, what 
then are the alternatives? Waiting in the wings are numerous energy sources 
which do not lead to apocalyptic weaponry and which, if not discouraged by price 
policies and heavy subsidies that drain factors of production away to nuclear pow- 
er, may be competitive and environmentally sound solutions to the energy prob- 
lem. To accomplish this objective, a rural development strategy is needed which 
focuses on the use of simple, inexpensive, labor-using tools and techniques that are 
appropriate to the scarcity of capital and the abundance of labor in poor countries. 
These tools and techniques, described by others variously as "intermediate" or 
"appropriate," or "village," I call "light capital technologies." 28 Light capital ener- 
gy technologies are small-scale, low-cost, simple, reliable, repairable with semi- 
skilled labor; and produced from local, renewable resources (such as sun, wind, 
flowing water, and vegetation). In some parts of the world, energy is already being 
provided from these non-polluting, renewable sources, through the use of devices 
such as: 1) small, water-powered turbines or hydraulic rams for pumping water, 
for providing mechanical energy, or for generating electricity; 20 2) windmills to 
pump drinking and irrigation water; to crush sugar cane, thresh or grind grain, 
shell peanuts; and to power small electric generators; 3) bio-gas or methane plants 
to fuel irrigation pumps and other engines, and to produce organic fertilizers as 
substitutes for more expensive chemicals; and 4) solar energy collectors to heat 
water, or dry crops for storage. 

Energy, like a penny, is as good saved as produced, and the developing world 
like the United States, is wasting it as if it were still cheap. Methods for saving 
energy in rural areas of developing societies include: 

More efficient cooking stoves, pots, and methods to reduce burning of wood, 
crop residues, and dung. 

28. See % India — The Strange Case of Wasted Billions," Separate Views of Hon. Clarence D 
Long, Foreign Assistance and Related Programs Appropriation Bill, 1975, House of Representa- 
tives, Ninety-Fourth Congress, First Session, House Report 94-53, pp. 51-58. 

"Light Capital Technology — The Only Hope for Foreign Aid," Additional views of the Hon 
Clarence D. Long, Foreign Assistance and Related Programs Appropriation Bill, 1976, House of 
Representatives, House Report 94-857, pp. 61-63. 

"Helping the Poor Help Themselves — New Directions in Economic Development," Additional 
Views of the Hon. Clarence D. Long, Foreign Assistance and Related Programs Appropriation 
Bill, 1977, House Report 94-1228, pp. 62-65. 

For more discussion of light capital technology, see Appropriate Technology: Problems ami 
Promises, Nicolas Jcquier, Development Center of the Organization for Economic Cooperation 
and Development, Paris, 1976 and Small is Beautiful E. F. Schumacher, (New York: Harper, 
Row, 1973). 

29. Energy for Rural Development: Renewable Resources and Alternative Technologies foi De- 
veloping Countries, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC. 1976, pp. 155-160. 


Improved clothing, blankets, and shelter to reduce heating-fuel consumption. 

Organization of human labor, sharing of draft animals to break labor bottle- 
necks at planting, weeding, harvesting, and threshing time, in order to make op- 
timum use of available animate energy. 

Replacing energy-intensive chemical fertilizers with natural and organic 

Use of drip irrigation with earthen pots and pipes which reduce the amount 
of water required — and the energy required to move it. 30 

It should be noted, however, that many developing nations — such as Argen- 
tina, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey, Korea, Mexico, Zaire, Angola, 
Morocco, Brazil and other countries of Latin America — possess unexploited fossil 
fuel (oil, natural gas, coal, oil shale and tar sands) as well as geothermal and 
hydroelectric resources sufficient for their own energy needs. 31 

The encouragement of light capital energy technologies must be institutional- 
ized. 32 A World Energy Conference could be a forum to convince developing na- 
tions to move away from nuclear power, to plan for replacing nuclear and capital- 

30. For discussion of improving efficiency of energy use in both less developed and industrial 
nations, see Barry Commoner, "Energy," The New Yorker. February 2, 9, and 16, 1976; Arjun 
iMakhijani, Energy Policy for the Rural Third World, International Institute for Environment 
and Development, September 1976; and Amory Lovins, "Scale, Centralization, and Electrifica- 
tion in Energy Systems," paper prepared for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Symposium en- 
titled Future Strategies of Energy Development, October 17, 1976. 

31. Barber Associates, pp. Ill 37-41 and figures III-3 and 1II-4. 

32. Some action in light capital energy development is occuring within the Energy Research 
and Development Administration'(ERDA) and within AID. In November, 1976, ERDA initiated 
a Cooperative Research and Development Program With Developing Countries, with emphasis 
"on the development of small-scale, decentralized energy technologies." However, as of this 
writing, this program has received practically no funding. AID has at least two sources of statu- 
tory authority for programs in light capital energy technologies. Section 106 of the Foreign Assis- 
tance Act, enacted in December 1975, authorizes foreign aid for 

programs to help developing countries alleviate their energy problems by increasing their 
production and conservation of energy, through . . . research and development of suitable 
energy sources and conservation methods, . . . and pilot projects to test new methods of pro- 
duction or conservation of energy. 
Section 107 of the Foreign Assistance Act, enacted at the same time, provided up to $20 million 
for "the development and dissemination of technologies appropriate for developing countries." 
An Appropriate Technology Fund has been created to carry out this program. Further the House 
Committee Report on this legislation ("International Development and Food Assistance Act of 
1975," House Report 94-442, pg. 52) makes clear that additional funds under the Food and Nutri- 
tion category (Section 103 of the Foreign Assistance Act under which the largest part of AlD's 
budget is authorized) can be used for "activities in the energy field directly related to agricul- 
tural or rural development." Within AID, the African Bureau has contracted for a study to 
recommend actions on village energy sources in Africa. 


intensive energy sources with light capital energy technologies, and to explore 
foreign aid as a means of nudging developing countries toward light capital tech- 
nology and away from nuclear power.™ 

Needed especially are credit organizations available in the villages, coupled 
with extension systems to show local people how to adapt, use, and repair the 
energy sources. To accomplish this institutionalization, use could be made of the 
Kissinger proposal of 1975 for an International Energy Institute. 

Congress can provide leadership in specific, yet undoubtedly controversial, 

1. Earmark funds for ERDA's Cooperative Research and Development Program 
with Developing Countries. 

2. Direct the Appropriate Technology Fund, now beginning its work, to under- 
take demonstration or pilot projects in light capital energy sources and technolo- 

3. Earmark foreign aid funds (under AID and other programs) for light capital 
energy projects, with emphasis on the creation of country and regional light 
capital energy institutes. 

4. Enact guidelines for United States foreign aid programs to provide incentives 
for poor countries to cooperate with United States anti-proliferation policies, to 
eschew nuclear power and to adopt light capital energy. 

5. Direct American representatives to the multilateral development banks and 
to other international organizations to stress light capital energy policies and 
projects. 34 

33. As a beginning in sensitizing international opinion, U.S. participation in the 1979 U.N. 
Conference on Science and Technology could emphasize light capital technologies in general and 
light capital energy technologies in particular. N 

34. Som£ of the international organizations in which the U.S. can advocate light capital energy 
technologies are the International Energy Agency, the Council on International Economic Co- 
operation in Paris, the World Bank Group, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian 
Development Bank, the United Nations and its member organizations such as the U.N. Develop- 
ment Program, the World Food Council and other international food organizations such as the 
newly-capitalized International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Organization of Amer- 
ican States, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Devel- 
opment Assistance Committee (DAC), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the consul- 
tative groups on aid to particular poor nations in which the U.S. participates. 

'I he Long amendment to the Inter-American Development Bank Authorization Act required 
the U.S. to propose that "the development and utilization of light-capital or intermediate tech- 
nologies should be accepted as major facets of the Bank's development strategy, . . . " (See Pub- 
lic Law 94-302). Language in the FY 1977 Foreign Aid Appropriations Bill Committee Report 
(House Report 94-1228, pg. 40) calls for action by the multilateral development banks in the 
field of light capital energy technologies. 


Objections That Will Be Raised to the Legislative Program 

objection: Poor nations must have nuclear power to replace oil imports and save 
foreign exchange. 

response: Nuclear power offers the prospect not of relieving shortages of foreign 
exchange and capital in poor nations but of exacerbating them. Nuclear power 
requires enormous capital — approximately $1 billion in capital construction costs 
for a 1,000 megawatt reactor, substantially more than for coal or oil-powered 
plants of that output/* 5 Reactor parts, highly skilled technicians, and nuclear fuel 
would have to be imported at additional foreign exchange cost; whereas more con- 
ventional power plants could use indigenous factors of production. 

Furthermore, if the bill to develop nuclear power in the underdeveloped nations 
is paid by the United States it would be at the expense of aid for food production, 
irrigation, and fertilizer, roads, education, health, ports, and housing. To con- 
struct the projected nuclear capacity for urban India alone in 1990 (not counting 
annual fuel costs) would require about $20 billion, 30 and this immense sum 
would do nothing for the energy needs of the rural poor who make up four-fifths 
of the Indian population and who represent the real reason for seeking economic 

Some of the oil-producing nations claim they need nuclear power to replace their 
oil when it gives out; but with oil for decades, they have time to seek out non- 
nuclear solutions and should certainly not get our subsidies to go the nuclear 
power route. If the oil-rich nations nevertheless choose to go the nuclear route to 
get to nuclear weaponry, they should have to use their own wealth. 

objection: // the United States stops subsidizing nuclear exports, other nations 
will take over the nuclear market. 

response: The threat of abandoning the nuclear market to other suppliers would 
be more formidable if the nuclear market were lucrative. 37 Those who claim it is 
profitable should be asked to substantiate their contention. Even the French may 
ultimately get the message that nuclear exports have a way of costing the tax- 
payers more than the industry earns in profits. If France, Germany, or any other 
nation chooses to lose money, or to give away its resources to other countries, this 

35. Division of Reactor Development and Demonstration, Office of the Assistant Administrator 
for Nuclear Energy, ERDA. This figure represents the cost for a nuclear reactor for which con- 
struction begins now and which begins operation in 1935. 

36. Barber Associates, pg. 11-17 and figure 11-12. 

37. Albert Wohlstcttei , Spreading the Bomb Without Quite Breaking the Rules," p 172 


is hardly reason for us to follow its example. 18 In any case, with our efforts sub- 
tracted from the others, the proliferation of reactors would presumably be less, 
and anything that reduces nuclear proliferation of reactors is of course a gain. As 
Albert Wohlstetter has suggested, better less than more and better later than 
sooner. 39 

Moreover there is some chance that United States leadership combined with 
economic and political pressure could bring other countries to cooperate. Chancel- 
lor Schmidt of West Germany has said that he was not aware of any official 
American displeasure with the German-Brazilian nuclear deal. 40 United States 
pressure forced South Korea to rescind its order for a French reprocessing plant. 
The French have recently agreed to stronger nuclear export controls; the Cana- 
dians have gone further in their controls than the French, 41 and the Soviet Union 
reportedly agrees with the stronger Canadian restraints. 42 Further, the major 
nuclear exporters — France and Germany — depend on American enriched nuclear 
fuel to keep their domestic power reactors going if they continue to divert their 
own fuel for export. 43 There are other avenues of economic pressure — such as 
American influence in the International Monetary Fund to affect loans to coun- 
tries in balance of payments difficulties, food exports, and capital restrictions. 
What evidence is there that the levers at our disposal cannot be made to work, if 
we use them in good faith? 

It is even possible that clear American leadership and example will be supple- 
mented by the burgeoning opposition to nuclear power in many developed coun- 
tries, including a number of the nuclear exporting nations. Sweden's recently 
elected Prime Minister, Thorbjorn Falldin, promised to dismantle his country's 
nuclear program, if elected; he has just presented legislation to the Swedish Parli- 
ament that severely restricts future nuclear power development. A British Royal 

38. Other nuclear exporting countries have financial institutions similar to the Export-Import 
Bank with at least as favorable interest rates and repayment terms for nuclear reactors. Subsi- 
dies, therefore, have been a common feature of all countries' nuclear exports. See Barber Asso- 
ciates, pg. IV-39. 

39. Wohlstetter, "Spreading the Bomb Without Quite Breaking the Rules," pg. 165. 

40. Department of State cable, "Federal Republic of Germany-Brazil Nuclear Cooperation Media 
Reaction," July 2, 1975 (unclassified cable). 

41. Under this policy, countries receiving Canadian nuclear technology would be limited to 
those who at least "accept international safeguards on their entire nuclear programme " Any 
nonnuclcar weapon state exploding a nuclear device would immediately be cut off from any 
Canadian nuclear shipments See statement by Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs, 
Donald Jamicson, December 22, 1976. 

42. Don Obordorfer, Washington Post, December 8, 1976, pg. 1. 

43. Warren H. Donnelly, Enrichment Requirements of France and the Federal Republic Ger- 
many 1977-1985," September 14, 1976, Congressional Research Service. 

37-189 O - 79 - 20 


Commission chaired by Sir Brian Flowers, a member of Britain's Atomic Energy 
Authority, recently recommended against development of fast breeder nuclear 
reactors — which produce huge amounts of weapons grade plutonium — in favor 
of development of alternative, nonnuclear, energy sources. France and West Ger- 
many have had sit-ins, mass demonstrations, and instances of sabotage at nuclear 
sites, and West Germany and Switzerland face legal fights over reactor construc- 
tion. Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands are having second thought^ about 
expanding their nuclear power capacity. 44 

objection: It is too late to stop nuclear proliferation. 

response: Although the spread of nuclear reactors and weaponry has been al- 
lowed to go too far, proliferation has just begun. Preventing any nation from go- 
ing nuclear will preserve neighboring nations from the fierce internal political 
pressures to do likewise, out of fear. Examples of nations seeking to keep up with 
the nation next door are Egypt as a result of Israel, Pakistan as a result of India, 
and Brazil as a result of Argentina. Any nuclear moves we can abort now can head 
off some multiple of these moves in the years to come. 

Tough as is the nuclear lobby now, it will get tougher, if the industry is allowed 
to multiply here and abroad. Anybody who has tried to resist the national defense 
lobby with its firms and workers in nearly every congressional district and its 
highly paid consultants in universities, will appreciate the urgency of acting be- 
fore the political clout of the nuclear industry approaches the dimensions of that of 
the defense industry. 

objection: Ending nuclear export subsidies will jeopardize thousands of Amer- 
ican jobs. 

response: So far as job creation is concerned, there are two objections to nuclear 
exports as a source of employment. First the nuclear industry, being capital in- 
tensive, furnishes few jobs and the highly-skilled, highly-paid people it does em- 
ploy are not, for the most part, this nation's main unemployment problem. Digging 
holes and refilling them to make work is good economics in comparison with 
subsidizing an industry that could lead to the destruction of much of mankind, 
if the only purpose is to provide a few thousand jobs. 

44. Sec the following press articles: Peter T. Kalborn, "A-Power Opposition Growing in Europe," 
Sew York Times, September 26, 1976, pg. 16. Nuclear Industry, January, 1977, pg 32. Bernard 
D. Nossitcr, "British Body Sees Danger in Fast Breeder Reactors," The Washington Post, Septem- 
ber 23, 1976, pg. A-21. "Proliferation Debate," Washington Star, September 29, 1976, editorial. 
Philip B. Smith and Ruud Spanhoff, "The Nuclear Energy Debate in the Netherlands," Bulletin 
of the Atomic Scientists. February 1976, pp. 41-44. 


The fact is that there are virtually trillions of dollars of projects vitally needed 
in this nation that offer exciting employment prospects, conditional only on first 
solving the inflationary effects: housing, mass transit, health care, education (in- 
cluding special education for the handicapped and the gifted), pollution abate- 
ment, flood control, helping the aged. So far as inflation is concerned, any of these 
avenues of job creation would lead to less cost and price increase than the nuclear 

If the United States withdraws nuclear export subsidies, how will this money 
get to the providers of employment? With these funds no longer extracted from 
the American capital markets, investment money will become available on some- 
what easier terms to the nonnuclear types of job creation. More jobs can be created 
in other industries where less capital is needed per worker, including industries 
producing other types of energy, than there would be jobs lost from diminished 
nuclear exports. 

objection: Nuclear export subsidies are needed to shore up an unfavorable United 
States balance-o\ -payments. 

response: It makes little sense to remedy an unfavorable balance-of-payments 
by creating terrifying long term problems, even if the unfavorable balance were 
large, and even if it could be remedied in this manner. In fact, nuclear exports are 
scarcely 1 percent of total United States exports, 4r ' substantially smaller than the 
statistical error in computing the balance of payments. In any case, there is a ques- 
tion whether subsidizing nuclear exports could help the balance of payments. At 
least one economist has argued that subsidizing an export produces no overall 
increase in exports, but simply increases imports by the same amount, and thus 
decreases employment in the import substitution industries. 46 My own reasoning 
is that subsidizing one kind of export also tends, by raising factor costs, to be at 
the expense of other exports, again without improving the total. 


It is my conviction that the greatest danger confronting the balance of this century 
is nuclear weapons proliferation among nations; that the major impetus to nuclear 

45. Survey of Current Business, Department of Commerce, December 1976, pg. S-3; also see "U.S. 
Nuclear Power Export Activities; Final Environmental Statement," ERDA-1542, April 1976, 
Vol. 1, pp. 4-16. 

46. Testimony by Arthur Laffcr in Nuclear Proliferation: Future U.S. Foreign Policy Implica- 
tions, pg. 112. See also Joseph M. Burns, "Alleged Market Failures in Financing U.S. Exports," 
pp. 364-389. 


power and weaponry has been United States subsidy and promotion; that past 
Congresses abandoned leadership to the President and the Joint Atomic Energy 
Committee; that the United States Congress can act during this session to stop 
this subsidy and promotion; and that ending the subsidy of nuclear proliferation 
would be wise economically and environmentally. 

I emphasize this economic justification because it is so often argued that if 
the United States stops subsidizing nuclear proliferation, other supplier countries 
will move in to fill the vacuum. Reasons have been cited here to suggest that other 
nations are seeing the folly of doing this and could see the folly even more clearly 
if the United States took leadership in pointing the way. But, if other nations in- 
sist on promoting nuclear proliferation, there will obviously be less than if we, 
the world's largest proliferator, continue in our wrong-headed policy. 

The legislative efforts to stop this promotion were begun in the 94th Congress 
but can proceed in the 95th, one hopes, under the leadership of President Carter, 
who has spoken strongly on this issue. The measures will be admittedly drastic, 
but there is no other hope. Proposals to wait for agreement among other supplier 
nations are proposals not to do anything, since any agreement will be at the mercy 
of the least common denominator, with numerous loopholes and long delays. 
The longer the delays, the more the proliferation to additional nations. The more 
nations with nuclear weapons, the harder to get agreement. Similarly, the larger 
the nuclear industry, in the United States and elsewhere, the more formidable 
the political lobby. 

The main obstacles to stopping nuclear proliferation will in fact be political 
pressure groups. To counter them will require arousing the American people to 
the imperatives of the proliferation issue. If there is one thing I have learned in 
fourteen years in Congress, it is that the finest oratory on the floor of the Congress 
is as nothing compared to a flood of letters from the folks back home. But such 
grass roots pressure requires arousing the public — scarcely easy in view of the 
complexity of the issue and the distasteful vision of the future that people are 
asked to ponder. 

There is the risk, of course, that if the public becomes sufficiently frightened 
to demand that something be done, the result might be over-reaction. Democracy 
does not function well in a state of panic. All the more reason to deal with the 
problem now while it is still manageable and can still be debated in an atmos- 
phere of calm reason. 





It could not 
halt proliferation 
permanently, but 
it might give 
the world a few 
more years to 
find a formula 


Michael Mandelbaum 

he world, or at least that part of it that worries about 
nuclear weapons, is in the midst of reconsidering the problem 
of nuclear proliferation. Three events have touched off a 
renewed concern about the spread of nuclear weapons and a 
search for ways to prevent it. 

The first was the Indian nuclear explosion beneath the 
Rajasthan desert in May 1974 — advertised as "peaceful" in 
intent but tantamount to the test of a weapon — which added a 
new member to the so-called nuclear "club" for the first time 
in a decade. The explosion showed that the network of 
treaties, guarantees and informal norms that had been set up 
in the 1960s to prevent proliferation could not keep the 
membership of that club steady at five. India was, moreover, 
the first full-fledged "Third World" nation to join the club. It 
was neither an ally nor an enemy either of the United States 
or — despite a pact of friendship — the Soviet Union. It did not 
hold a permanent place on the United Nations Security 
Council. The nuclear ambitions of Third World nations had 
previously seemed modest and of little consequence. 

Mandelbaum, Michael. A nuclear exporters' 
cartel. In Bulletin of the atomic scientists 
Jan. 1977, pp. 42-50. Copyright- material 
reproduced with permission of copyright 
holder . 


The second important event was 
the energy crisis of 1973 and 1974, 
which was touched off by the oil 
embargo imposed by the Arab oil- 
producing states in the wake of the 
1973 war in the Middle East. The 
world caught a glimpse of a future in 
which fossil fuel was both expensive 
and in increasingly short supply. 
Nations began to look to nuclear 
power for their energy requirements 
for the balance of the century. Nu- 
clear power plants, which had been 
regarded as expensive gadgets, suit- 
able only for the richest members of 
the international community, loom- 
ed instead as the engines of eco- 
nomic progress and well-being for 
all. They began to appear attractive 
to nations everywhere, of every po- 
litical stripe. 

The commercial agreement be- 
tween Germany and Brazil, an- 
nounced in June 1975, was a third 
shock. The Germans contracted to 
sell not only nuclear reactors, but 
machinery for enriching uranium, 
and for treating spent fuel to extract 
the plutonium from it as well. These 
two processes are important not 
only for generating nuclear energy, 
but for producing nuclear weapons. 
For the first time, the most dange- 
rous parts of the nuclear fuel cycle 
were to be sent outside the circle of 
the advanced industrial nations 
upon whom the disincentives for 
acquiring nuclear weapons could be 
expected to weigh heavily. 

A forest of proposals for keeping 
the bomb from spreading has grown 
up over the past two years. 1 The 
most novel and intriguing of them is 
one advanced most prominently by 
Senator Abraham A. Ribicoff and by 
Steven J. Baker to divide the world 

Michael Mandelbaum is assistant profes- 
sor of government and research asso- 
ciate in the Program lor Science and Inter- 
national Affairs at Harvard University. 

market for nuclear reactors into pre- 
cisely defined shares among the in- 
dustrial nations that now manufac- 
ture them for export. 2 Each exporter 
would be guaranteed a certain num- 
ber of sales annually. In return, each 
would pledge not to sell uranium 
enrichment or plutonium reprocess- 
ing technology, as Germany did to 
Brazil. Each exporter, that is, would 
give up the right to sell whatever 
nuclear equipment he wished to 
whomever he wished in exchange 
for a measure of commercial securi- 

This market-sharing proposal 
gives more promise of retarding the 
drift toward a nuclear world than 
any of the others that have been put 
fo'rward. It is a "technical," rather 
than a "political" barrier to prolife- 
ration. It would affect the capacity 
rather than the intention of non- 
nuclear nations to have nuclear 
weapons; it would impair their abili- 
ty to get the bomb rather than reduc- 
ing the predisposition to want it. 
This is an advantage, because inten- 
tions are not easy to control. The 
most common reason for wanting 
nuclear weapons is for purposes of 
security. And existing security guar- 
antees do powerfully inhibit the 
spread of these weapons. By taking 
shelter under the American nuclear 
umbrella West Germany, South 
Korea, Taiwan and, perhaps, Israel 
have felt it possible — indeed 
necessary — to forego their own nu- 
clear forces. 3 But that umbrella can- 
not be stretched much further. New 
security guarantees might well not 
be supported by the people of the 
nations giving them, nor accepted as 
credible by those governments to 
which they were extended. 

Nations also want nuclear weap- 
ons for the prestige these armaments 
bring. There is something satisfying 
about parading on the international 


stage armed with the most sophisti- 
cated and deadly weapons. This is 
an ambition that is even less easily 
fulfilled by non-nuclear means than 
is the desire for security. It is some- 
times argued that if the United States 
and the Soviet Union would only 
start to dismantle their nuclear arse- 
nals, the impulse to join the nuclear 
club in the rest of the world would 
begin to die away. 4 But the two great 
powers will not disarm themselves, 
unilaterally or together. And even if 
they did, nuclear weapons would 
not thereby become less attractive. 
The tiny stockpile of weapons that 
most nations could manage, on the 
contrary, would become all the 
more valuable. 

As well as skirting the pitfalls of 
trying to influence directly nations' 
motives for acquiring nuclear weap- 
ons, a market-sharing arrangement 
among nuclear exporters would 
avoid the shortcomings associated 
with the presently favored means of 
making certain that peaceful nuclear 
facilities are not used for military 
purposes: the application of interna- 
tional safeguards. 5 

The principal suppliers of nuclear 
technology, the members of the so- 
called "London Club," have agreed 
among themselves to insist that the 
purchasers of enrichment and re- 
processing facilities accept inspec- 
tion of these facilities by the Interna- 
tional Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 
to make certain that material is not 
being diverted to make bombs. They 
have also agreed to insist upon a 
promise not to resell any of it with- 
out exacting the same pledge from 
their customers. This agreement ex- 
tends, in effect, the provisions of the 
Non-Proliferation Treaty. 6 But en- 
richment and reprocessing plants 
are harder to monitor than reactors. 
Moreover, as the number of nuclear 
facilities grows, the modest re- 

sources of the iaea will be taxed 
more and more heavily. And, most 
important of all, any sovereign state 
can simply refuse to permit inspec- 
tions, for good or bad reasons or for 
no reason at all. The IAEA has no 
way to force its inspectors upon 
unwilling nations. So the cause of 
nonproliferation is more reliably 
served if there is nothing to inspect 
in the first place. 

A division of the world market for 
nuclear reactors has a final advan- 
tage. It goes to the heart of the 
problem of proliferation. It would 
reinforce the barrier against the 
spread of nuclear weapons where 
that barrier seems most in danger of 
collapsing. Developing countries, 
like India and Brazil, which stand 
outside the two great alliance sys- 
tems that revolve around the United 
States and the Soviet Union, are the 
most worrisome candidates for the 
nuclear club. The easiest way for 
them to join is to build nuclear" 
power plants. These are not difficult 
to acquire. The more advanced in- 
dustrial nations are happy to supply 
them. But once a nation is generat- 
ing electric power by nuclear 
• means, and can make its own nucle- 
ar fuel, it has the wherewithal for a 
bomb. For nuclear energyi and nu- 
clear weapons involve the same 
process — a "chain reaction." 

In the first instance the chain reac- 
tion is steady. In the second it builds 
to a crescendo and explodes. The 
same "fissionable material" — 
usually uranium — serves as the basis 
for both. A purer form of the fission- 
able material is required for a bomb 
than for a power plant. But the 
equipment to purify the fissionable 
substances can turn it into 
"weapons-grade material" as well 
as into reactor fuel. It is the export of 
this equipment — enrichment ma- 
chinery and reprocessing plants — 


that the market-sharing arrangement 
would prohibit. Without it, a nation 
must import the fuel to run its reac- 
tors, and cannot convert that fuel 
into the ingredients for a bomb. 
With it, a state can have both nucle- 
ar energy and nuclear weapons. 

Perhaps the surest way to restrict 
the number of nuclear weapon 
states is to ban the export of all 
nuclear facilities, including reactors. 
But that is no longer possible. 
Whether wisely or foolishly, too 
many nations want to have nuclear 
power reactors, and too many others 
have invested too much in manufac- 
turing them to bring the export of all 
nuclear technology to a full stop. 
Nor would a unilateral American 
embargo on nuclear sales curtail the 
diffusion of the most dangerous nu- 
clear technology. 7 Other nations 
would not follow the American ex- 
ample. In dealing with Brazil, Ger- 
many specifically refused to do so. 

The German-Brazilian Deal 

The German-Brazilian contract 
was driven by precisely the sort of 
commercial competition that a 
market-sharing arrangement would 
eliminate. 8 And the June 1975 bar- 
gain is a harbinger of things to come 
in the absence of such an arrange- 
ment. For in the industrial West, 
nuclear industries are growing. But 
their domestic markets, particularly 
in Western Europe, are not large 
enough to sustain that growth. They 
must export to survive and prosper, 
and so they scramble to win custom- 
ers abroad, by whatever means they 
can. Their own governments will not 
tie their hands. For these industries 
have considerable political lever- 
age. And their governments are anx- 
ious for them to do well for reasons 
independent of their political influ- 
ence. The revenue they can earn is 

welcome in a time of balance of 
payments deficits. 

The nuclear industry is now re- 
garded as the most sophisticated a 
nation can have. It stands at the 
cutting edge of technical advance. It 
can serve as a source of national 
prestige, and a resource for other 
sectors of the economy. Nuclear 
sales abroad can be a bridge across 
which exports of other high- 
technology items flow. The Ger- 
mans have defended their dealings 
with Brazil on the grounds that nu- 
clear commerce is like trade in any 
other product; the more the better, 
and no special restrictions need ap- 
ply. But they are eager to do as 
much nuclear business as they can 
precisely because it is not like any 
other kind of trade. 

The American nuclear industry, 
the largest and most advanced one, 
has come to dominate the industrial 
world. That leaves the developing 
countries as the potential nuclear 
customers for the other would-be 
exporters. The smaller nuclear 
exporters — the French, the Germans 
and the Canadians — do not want to 
be shut out there. They are willing to 
offer a great deal — including equip- 
ment that can make bombs — to get 
in. But their potential customers in 
the developing world are precisely 
the states whose prospects for ac- 
quiring nuclear weapons are most 
troubling. 9 

The German offer of enrichment 
and reprocessing facilities to Brazil 
was a "sweetener," a ploy to elbow 
aside American salesmen. It suc- 
ceeded. It will be repeated. For it 
was born of the fear that, just as the 
United States dominated the aero- 
space industry in the 1950s and the 
computer industry in the 1960s, so it 
will monopolize the world market 
for the most lucrative, prestigious 


and scientifically important industry 
of the 1970s and 1980s— nuclear 
technology. These fears threaten to 
spread the technology that can pro- 
duce nuclear weapons all over the 

A compact among the exporting 
nations would calm them. And it 
would do something more. It would 
underscore the determination of the 
industrial nations to keep the num- 
ber of nuclear weapons states from 
growing rapidly. It would reinforce 
the international norm against pro- 
liferation. And it would serve notice 
on the world community of a prob- 
lem with which its members will 
have to wrestle for the rest of the 
century and beyond. A compact 
among nuclear-exporting countries 
would be as clear a signal of things 
to come as was the dramatic emer- 
gence as an important force in inter- 
national affairs of the body that it 
would resemble — the cartel of oil- 
producing states, the Organization 
of Petroleum Exporting Countries 

Senator Ribicoff does not call the 
market-sharing scheme that he pro- 
poses a cartel. 10 But that is what it 
would be. A cartel is an arrangement 
among suppliers to control the pro- 
duction and the distribution of a 
particular commodity, rather than 
allowing market forces to determine 
them. An agreement among nuclear 
exporters to refrain from selling 
weapons-related technology would 
have this central feature in common 
with OPEC, which has brought 
about a steep increase in the price of 
petroleum since 1970. There is a 
crucial difference between OPEC 
and a nuclear exporters cartel. Dif- 
ferent purposes animate them. 
OPEC is a financial proposition. Its 
members adhere to the cartel's rules 
to maximize their revenues. The 

purposes of a nuclear exporters car- 
tel would be political: to keep nu- 
clear weapons in as few hands as 

Economic benefits could serve, 
however, as a supplementary motive 
to draw the members of a nuclear 
exporters cartel together. France and 
Germany, in particular, could ex- 
pect to do better in a controlled 
market than under conditions of un- 
restricted competition with the Unit- 
ed States. And all of the exporters 
would be less inclined than they are 
now to offer the sort of liberal finan- 
cial terms for purchasing their reac- 
tors that cut their profits from the 
sales. Finally, by keeping control of 
part of the nuclear fuel cycle, the 
exporters would assure themselves 
of foreign markets for important 
parts of their nuclear industries for 
the foreseeable future. The nuclear 
self-sufficiency Germany is provid- 
ing to Brazil means that ultimately 
the Brazilians will not need to buy 
anything from the Germans, or from 
anybody else. 

A nuclear exporters cartel would 
be no more popular than opec has 
been. It would probably receive an 
even cooler reception in the world 
community. For opec has ap- 
peared, even to those nations whose 
economies the soaring cost of oil has 
hurt most, to be a step toward 
righting the imbalance between the 
rich and the poor members of the 
international system. A nuclear car- 
tel, by contrast, would seem a de- 
vice to widen the gap between 
them. By depriving the poorer mem- 
bers of the international system of 
modern technology, the cartel 
would act as an instrument of bla- 
tant discrimination. It would seem 
just another of the many examples of 
the gross inequality among nations 
that is coming to be the central issue 


;in world politics. It is no wonder that 
ieven those who worry most about 
the spread of nuclear weapons do 
not wish to come forward as cham- 
pions of a "nuclear opec." 

A nuclear exporters cartel would 
not, of course/ deprive developing 
nations of nuclear power. Indeed, 
the cartel could make reactors avail- 
able on generous terms, to compen- 
sate for the denial of weapons- 
related equipment. It would be an 
instrument of international inequali- 
ty. Of that there can be no doubt. 
But to abandon all forms of interna- 
tional inequality is to give up the 
attempt to keep nuclear weapons 
from spreading. For to keep nuclear 
weapons away from some states 
while permitting them to others, 
whether by a Non-Proliferation 
Treaty, a series of alliance commit- 
ments, or a cartel, is an exercise in 
discrimination. It is bound to cause 
some unhappiness. OPEC is here a 
useful example. And it is useful not 
only in estimating the reception a 
nuclear exporters cartel would re- 
ceive. It can serve as a model for 
speculating about whether a nuclear 
cartel could be formed, how it 
would work, and what it could hope 
to accomplish. 

OPEC's Success 

OPEC owes its existence, and its 
success, to three things. First, its 
members control a substantial frac- 
tion of the world's petroleum re- 
serves. On this count the prospects 
for a nuclear exporters cartel, to 
organize and supervise a prohibition 
on the sale of enrichment and re- 
processing machinery, are relatively 
bright. A few select nations control 
almost all of the world's advanced 
nuclear technology. The countries 
whose representatives gathered in 
London in 1975 and 1976 to discuss 

the dangers posed by the spread of 
nuclear facilities — Great Britain, 
France, West Germany, Japan, Can- 
ada, the United States and the Soviet 
Union — have a virtual monopoly on 
the manufacture — for export — of 
uranium enrichment and plutonium 
reprocessing facilities. 11 

A nuclear exporters cartel could 
strengthen itself by including the 
nations that produce raw uranium. 
The chances that the owners of the 
bulk of the world's known reserves 
of uranium ore will combine to con- 
trol the mining and sales of it are 
small. Two of the three largest 
producers — Australia and Canada — 
would scarcely risk offending 
the greatest consumer, as well as the 
largest producer — the United States 
— as the OPEC nations have done. 12 
But the political ties that make such 
an arrangement implausible make it 
possible that uranium producers 
could be induced to restrict the sup- 
ply of uranium, in concert with the 
ban on the export of reprocessing 
and fuel enrichment centers, to form 
a "vertically integrated" nuclear 
cartel. 13 

Second, the OPEC countries have 
had a powerful common incentive 
to coordinate their pricing and pro- 
duction schedules. By doing so they 
have increased their revenues from 
oil far above the level it would have 
reached without this cooperation. 
None of the nuclear exporters, it is 
safe to say, wishes to see nuclear 
weapons become as familiar a token 
of nationhood as a seat in the United 
Nations. But the distaste for prolife- 
ration is not as overridingly powerful 
a sentiment as the desire for profit. 
Some additional inducement for co- 
operation is needed to form a nu- 
clear exporters cartel. And one is 
available. The relations among the 
principal suppliers, the Soviet Union 


excepted, give the United States 
considerable leverage over the oth- 
ers, which it could use to knit a 
cartel together. 

In reprisal for selling forbidden 
nuclear technology, the American 
government could threaten to take a 
variety of steps, from interrupting 
shipments of enriched uranium to 
withdrawing American armed forces 
from the territory of the "nuclear 
bootlegger." Senator Ribicoff has 
suggested withholding enriched ura- 
nium, for which the Europeans will 
continue to rely upon the United 
States for the next decade, from any 
state that exports weapons-related 
technology. 14 But the more severe 
threats might well not be credible; 
the less harsh ones might seem 
worth risking to nourish a national 
nuclear industry. In any case, the 
threat is not the preferred form of 
international persuasion, even 
among allies. A formula for parcel- 
ling out the world market for reac- 
tors is both a more attractive and 
more plausible means of enforcing a 
ban on the dissemination of dange- 
rous nuclear equipment. Threats can 
lurk, implied but unstated, in the 

The third crucial precondition for 
OPEC does not augur well for the 
formation of a nuclear cartel. OPEC 
was formed in 1960, but did not 
'become powerful until a decade 
later when a series of extraordinary 
events in effect threw the oil produc- 
ers together. In 1970, Libya de- 
manded and won an increase in the 
concession it was receiving on its 
oil, starting the shift in the balance of 
power in the petroleum industry 
from the private oil companies to the 
host governments. Then, in 1973, 
came the Arab-Israeli war. The Arab 
oil states imposed an embargo for 
political, not financial, reasons. 
Without the war it would never have 

taken place. The embargo led to a 
worldwide shortage of petroleum 
that, in turn, permitted Iran to take 
advantage of sky-rocketing bids for 
spot oil to raise its selling price 
dramatically— and unilaterally. The 
other oil producers followed. A se- 
ries of independent acts gave birth to 
the oil cartel. It came into existence, 
if not by accident at least without 
formal coordination. 15 

The three "shocks" — the Indian 
test, the energy crisis, and the 
German-Brazilian deal — that sent 
the problem of nuclear proliferation 
soaring to the top of the internation- 
al agenda led to the London meet- 
ings of the principal suppliers. But 
these meetings have not produced a 
common resolve to take decisive 
measures to halt the distribution of 
dangerous technology. The London 
Club endorsed the extension of in- 
ternational safeguards to all export- 
ed nuclear equipment, but nothing 
more. So diffident about putting 
their principled opposition to the 
further spread of nuclear weapons 
into practice were several of the 
participants in these meetings, nota- 
bly the French and the Soviets, that 
for the first few months they refused 
to let it be known publicly that the 
talks were being held. 

Something will have to take the 
place of the fortuitous chain of 
events that gave rise to OPEC, to 
overcome this diffidence, if a nucle- 
ar exporters cartel is to come into 
being. The American political influ- 
ence that could supplement the fi- 
nancial incentives for banding to- 
gether in a cartel might serve this 
related purpose, as well. Whether it 
will do so remains to be seen. 

The OPEC precedent offers clues 
not only to whether it is feasible to 
create a nuclear market-sharing ar- 
rangement, but to how it would 
have to operate once created. Ine- 


lasticity of demand is a crucial con- 
dition for the continuation of a car- 
tel. The cartel's regulation of supply 
must not lead to precipitous changes 
in either supply or demand. For each 
member has incentives both to co- 
operate and to compete with all the 
others. Each can increase its short- 
term gain, at the expense of the 
others, by lowering its price, and 
hence raising the volume of the 
sales. If overall demand drops, the 
temptation to increase individual 
market shares by shading prices 
grows. This is the way many cartels 
have eventually collapsed. 

OPEC has drawn strength from the 
relative inelasticity of demand for its 
product. The world cannot readily 
do without a great deal of oil. But 
the high price of petroleum, by help- 
ing to lead the industrial West into 
an economic recession, has pushed 
demand downward. This has creat- 
ed the conditions in which the 
members of a cartel are prone to 
cheat. But OPEC has found a way to 
prevent cheating. Saudi Arabia, with 
some assistance from Kuwait and 
Libya, has served as the "governor" 
of the OPEC system. As demand has 
dropped, Saudi Arabia has voluntar- 
ily contracted its production of oil. 
This has permitted the other OPEC 
nations to keep selling all of their 
petroleum at the same high price. 

A nuclear cartel would need some 
functional equivalent of Saudi Ara- 
bia. Someone would have to bear 
the cost of market control. However 
the market for reactors is divided, 
and this would certainly not be easy 
to do. 16 Some country, or countries, 
will likely have to forego sales that 
might have been made in open 
competition. And a more explicit 
price may have to be paid. If the 
worldwide demand for reactors is 
low, even fixed shares of that market 

may not be large enough in absolute 
terms to keep exporters from "cheat- 
ing." In that case, the supplier states 
might find it necessary to raise a 
compensation fund, to be dispersed 
to the cartel's members according to 
some prearranged formula in order 
to take up the economic slack 
caused by the recession in reactors. 
It would amount to a system of 
unemployment insurance for the 
world nuclear industry. Some na- 
tions would probably have to con- 
tribute more to such a fund and 
some would be able to collect more 
from it than others. Thus the taxpay- 
ers of one country could find them- 
selves subsidizing the nuclear indus- 
tries of another. 17 

The taxpayers likeliest to bear this 
burden are Americans. The United 
States is best placed to serve as the 
Saudi Arabia of a nuclear exporters 
cartel. 18 For the United States has 
now the securest position in the 
world market. It has the most force- 
fully expressed interest in thwarting 
proliferation. It cannot give up po- 
tential income as easily as can the 
dollar-drenched Saudis. But the 
American economy is at least as 
healthy and resilient as that of any 
of the other nuclear suppliers. And 
finally, for the past three decades, 
the United States has borne the costs 
of leadership in security affairs in the 
West (and received the benefits that 
go with it). In subsidizing a nuclear 
cartel, American taxpayers would be 
buying security — and international 
"collective good"— just as they do 
when they authorize an expensive 
weapon system, or pay the salaries 
of troops stationed abroad. On that 
basis they might be persuaded to 
support such an arrangement. 

The degree of support required 
depends upon the market conditions 
for nuclear reactors in the coming 


years. The worldwide demand for 
them for the balance of the century 
is difficult to estimate. It will be 
determined by things that vary un- 
predictably over time; the costs of 
other sources of energy — like oil — 
and nuclear equipment; the safety 
jberformance of nuclear power 
plants; the availability of credits to 
purchase them. It is generally as- 
sumed that the export market, espe- 
cially in the developing countries, 
will bloom in the second half of the 
1970s and in the 1980s. Nuclear 
power plants are seen sprouting up 
like dandelions all over the world. 18 
But that market could fall below 
current estimates, just as the de- 
mand for nuclear energy in the in- 
dustrial countries is falling short ol 
the levels previously predicted for it. 
(This is one reason why the develop- 
ing countries have suddenly become 
such attractive customers.) 

In the United States and Europe 
the growth in the demand for energy 
has slowed. Inflation has raised the 
capital costs of nuclear facilities, 
and political opposition to them has 
made itself known. Some or all of 
these trends could affect the devel- 
oping nations. And some of these 
nations may find that other means of 
producing power better suit their 
needs. A nuclear power plant is 
coming to be as vivid a token of 
national self-assertion as a flag and_a 
steel mill. But once a state owns one 
or two, and fulfills its prestige re- 
quirements, it may decide to invest 
in hydroelectricity, or coal, or oil. 

A tight market would strain an 
exporters cartel. The feebler the de- 
mand for reactors, the larger the 
compensation fund that would be 
needed to restrain the suppliers' im- 
pulse to cheat. And the importing 
countries, saddled with one or two 
power plants, might decide that the 

value of these facilities lay not in the 
economic benefits of the power they 
generated, but in the political poten- 
tial of the plutonium contained in 
their waste products. In a healthy 
market, in which they could sell as 
many reactors as they could turn 
out, the exporting countries would 
have no reason to break the taboo 
against selling weapons-related fa- 
cilities as part of their nuclear pack- 

But a boom market would present 
a different problem for the cartel. If 
the export of enrichment and re- 
processing facilities were success- 
fully prohibited, and if developing 
countries came to depend more and 
more on nuclear energy, these 
countries would find their econo- 
mies increasingly at the mercy of the 
suppliers of nuclear fuel. They can- 
not be expected to look forward to 
such a state of affairs. The industrial 
nations are less than pleased about 
the hold that OPEC has over them. 
The Europeans developed their own 
enrichment capacity in part to break 
the American stranglehold on nucle- 
ar fuel. It is not likely that the devel- 
oping countries will feel differently. 
The more they come to depend 
upon nuclear energy, the more ur- 
gently they will wish to have control 
over the entire fuel cycle, including 
the stages that are part of the process 
of making weapons. 

Multinational Authority 

To meet this difficulty many who 
have considered the problem of 
proliferation, including Senator 
Ribicoff, have suggested that the fuel 
cycle — or at least the enrichment, 
reprocessing, and waste storage 
parts of it — be put under some sort 
of "multinational" authority. 20 This 
is an appealing idea. It solves, in 
principle, all the major problems: 


• It corrects the sense of inequity 
associated with nuclear technology 
by giving the developing countries a 
way to participate in using it. 

• It allays their fears that they will 
find their economies in the grip of 
the nuclear suppliers. 

• It would permit the kinds of 
economies of scale that would make 
nuclear power economically sensi- 
ble for countries for whom it is 
presently too expensive. 

• And it would keep the dange- 
rous parts of the fuel cycle out of the 
hands of would-be proliferants. 

But to try to put the idea into 
practice immediately raises a num- 
ber of questions: Where would these 
multinational facilities be located? 
Who would contribute what to 
them? How would decisions about 
operating them be made? And who 
would operate them? 

The IAEA might be able to recruit 
the requisite technicians, but would 
there also be a series of U.N. peace- 
keeping forces to safeguard the facil- 
ities against theft? And might such 
facilities not make it easier for states 
that wanted them to get nuclear 
weapons, by providing access to the 
technology that those states would 
otherwise not have? The answers to 
these questions are not at all clear. 
And there is no international organi- 
zation that can serve as an encour- 
aging precedent for a multinational 
nuclear fuel cycle. Nor is there 
much evidence of the sort of inter- 
national political consensus that is a 
necessary precondition for design- 
ing one. 

Perhaps the best hope for discour- 
aging developing countries from ac- 
quiring the means to make nuclear 
fuel is not the prospect of such mul- 
tinational facilities, but the prolifera- 
tion of enrichment capabilities that 
has already taken place. The Euro- 

pean uranium enrichment programs 
may turn out to be helpful in keep- 
ing the bomb from spreading. 21 
Consumers of nuclear fuel may be 
more willing to do without their own 
enrichment plants if they know that 
they can get their uranium from 
more than one supplier. But they 
will be most willing to do without 
them if they do not use much nucle- 
ar power; if the worldwide growth of 
the nuclear industry is modest in the 
coming years. Unlike OPEC, there- 
fore, a depressed market may serve 
the purposes of a nuclear exporters 
cartel better than a buoyant one. 

OPEC is not only a useful model 
for designing a strategy of nonprolif- 
eration in the mid-1970s; it is an 
appropriate symbol of the way the 
problem of the diffusion of nuclear 
weapons has changed in 30 years. 
This is the third time a concerted 
effort against proliferation has been 
mounted. The first took piace imme- 
diately after World War II. It was 
inspired by the bombings of Hiroshi- 
ma and Nagasaki. The international 
organization around which it re- 
volved was the United Nations. The 
United Nations provided the forum 
for presenting the first disarma- 
ment — and nonproliferation — pro- 
posal — the Baruch Plan. By the 
terms of the Baruch Plan, every 
phase of nuclear energy, from the 
mining of uranium to the manufac- 
ture of bombs, would come under 
international control. The Plan was 
to serve the larger purposes of the 
United Nations — to put an end to 
war once and for all by abolishing 
one of its basic preconditions — 
national armaments. 

The second campaign against 
proliferation came in the mid-1 960s. 
The first French nuclear test, in 
1960, and the initial Chinese explo- 
sion in 1964 inspired it. The two 


great military alliances— the North 
Atlantic Treaty Organization and the 
Warsaw Pact — were at the center of 
it. Now the aim was not to do away 
with nuclear weapons altogether, 
but to keep them under the control 
of the leaders of those two alliances. 
The political power of the United 
States and the Soviet Union, derived 
in part from their own nuclear arse- 
nals, was the guiding force behind 
nonproliferation measures in this 
period. The two nuclear giants gave 
assurances of protection to some 
anxious nations to keep them out of 
the nuclear club, and used their 
political influence on others to get 
their signatures on the Non- 
Proliferation Treaty. 

The differences between the rele- 
vant international organizations in 
the present phase — OPEC and its 
cousin, a nuclear exporters cartel — 
on the one hand, and the United 
Nations and NATO and the Warsaw 
Pact, on the other, illustrate the 
changes that have come over the 
relations between nations in three 
decades— changes that have altered 
the problem of proliferation. 

The economics of energy is be- 
coming as important as the politics 
of security in world affairs, and pro- 
liferation involves the first as well as 
the second. Over the cleavage be- 
tween East and West that dominated 
international relations for a quarter 
century has been superimposed an- 
other one between north and south. 
And the differences between the rich 
and the poor of the international 
system are now as pertinent to pro- 
liferation as the divisions between 
the nations whose political systems 
descend from the great revolutions 
of the 17th and 18th centuries, and 
the states that trace their lineage to 
the revolutions of the 20th century. 
And as with other international is- 

sues, the proliferation problem en- 
tails not only the policies of national 
governments but the interests of 
non-governmental entities— in this 
case national energy industries— as 

The world has passed from a mo- 
ment, just after World War II, when 
one nation — the United States — 
towered over all the others, to an era 
of military standoff between two nu- 
clear giants, to the present age, 
which has been termed one of 
"complex interdependence." 22 The 
popular image for the present inter- 
national system is a game of chess 
with "multiple chessboards"; a vari- 
ety of arenas, with different rules 
and balances of forces, in which 
international issues are decided. It is 
a complicated system, not least be- 
cause ft retains important features of 
the ones that have preceded it. 

The nonproliferation regime that 
Senator Ribicoff envisions would 
draw upon all three postwar peri- 
ods: the multinational nuclear fuel 
facilities he and others endorse 
harks back to the Baruch Plan; the 
technically advanced, non-nuclear 
states like Germany and Japan 
would presumably remain deterred 
from turning their skills to the pro- 
ductions of weapons by the alliance 
that keeps them safe; and a cartel 
would restrain their impulse to dis- 
seminate the capacity to produce 
them for financial gain. 

And as the task of preventing the 
spread of nuclear weapons has 
grown in complexity, the chances 
for complete success have dimin- 
ished. In the first postwar period the 
goal of the United Nations, the inter- 
national organization most closely 
involved with the campaign against 
nuclear proliferation, was world 
peace. In the second, stability was 
the aim. Now, international organi- 


zations are associated with more 
modest purposes. They are com- 
monly regarded as agents of neither 
wholesale reform, nor confident 
control of the untidy processes of 
world politics. The term most com- 
monly used to describe their role is 

The Baruch Plan was designed to 
ban the bomb; the Non-Proliferation 
Treaty to bolt the gates of the nucle- 
ar club. The arrangements that Sena- 
tor Ribicoff and others have suggest- 
ed can dissuade some nations from 
acquiring nuclear weapons and 
delay the nuclear decision for oth- 
ers. They can slow the rate at which 
the club expands. But they cannot 
offer foolproof guarantees against 
the further spread of nuclear weap- 

Once again, the OPEC analogy is 
instructive. The process that ulti- 
mately dooms cartels, "substitu- 
tion," could circumvent a nuclear 
exporters cartel as well. Sooner or 
later an alternative to a product con- 
trolled by a cartel usually appears. 
When it does, consumers can by- 
pass the cartel, and it collapses. 
Substitution threatens OPEC over 
the long term. Natural gas, coal, 
nuclear energy, and possibly solar 
power will some day be at hand in 
great enough quantities to challenge 
the predominance of oil. 23 For a 
nuclear exporters cartel the equiva- 
lent of "substitution" is the building 
of indigenous enrichment or reproc- 
essing facilities by nations that can- 
not purchase them. 

Assembling an enrichment facility 
is a feat well beyond the capacities 
of almost all potential proliferants 
until at least the late 1980s. Building 
a reprocessing plant on the other 
hand — small, simple, without com- 
mercial potential, but sufficient to 
separate enough plutonium for a few 

crude warheads — does not lie be- 
yond their ken. A nation with a 
modest industrial infrastructure, and 
some nuclear experience, could 
make a reprocessing plant, it is esti- 
mated, in four years. 24 A state that is 
bound and determined to have the 
bomb, that is willing to make 
sacrifices — to "eat grass" — to get 
one, can do so. 

Most Promising Proposal 

A nuclear exporters cartel is the 
most promising multilateral ini- 
tiative — as distinct from particular 
policies tailored to individual 
states — for preventing the spread of 
nuclear weapons. But Andre Gide's 
reply to the question of who was the 
foremost novelist of the 19th 
century — "Victor Hugo, alas" — is 
relevant here. A nuclear exporters 
cartel is the best of such measures, 
but it has grave weaknesses. It 
would be difficult to design and 
manage. Its formation would offend 
non-nuclear nations and might not 
win the support of those citizens of 
the industrial states, particularly in 
the United States, who would be 
called upon to finance it. And it 
probably would not be wholly suc- 
cessful in stopping proliferation. 
What, then, could it hope to accom- 

• A nuclear exporters cartel 
would force a nation to make its 
intentions to fabricate a bomb clear- 
er earlier in the process of doing so 
than would otherwise be the case. 

• It would no longer be possible 
to proceed toward the making of a 
weapon under the pretext of estab- 
lishing a program of nuclear energy. 
This would raise the financial and 
political price of a bomb. 

• It would give the international 
community earlier warning of the 
nuclear intentions of its members 


than it would otherwise receive, and 
thus a greater chance to check po- 
tential proliferants. 

• And it would force govern- 
ments to make unambiguous deci- 
sions to equip themselves with nu- 
clear weapons, decisions that would 
therefore be more difficult to make, 
and might not be made at all where 
the inclination to join the nuclear 
club was weak, or where domestic 
opposition was vigorous. 

A Ripple Effect 

This would have a salutary effect 
on the neighbors of near-nuclear 
nations as well as the nations them- 
selves. India's nuclear explosion dis- 
tressed Pakistan. An Israeli weapon 
would have a comparable effect on 
the Arab states. Argentina is nerv- 
ously watching the Brazilian nuclear 
program. A bomb can have a "ripple 
effect"; one new nuclear weapon 
state can send a row of others fall- 
ing, like dominoes, into the nuclear 
club. A cartel could not guarantee to 
keep this from happening. But by 
pushing back the nuclear threshold, 
it could restrain an immediate 
scramble for nuclear weapons. 

If several nations use fuel prepara- 
tion facilities to make weapons, 
ownership of an enrichment or re- 
processing plant may come to be 
regarded as tantamount to having a 
bomb. Then commercial transac- 
tions, like the one between Germa- 
ny and Brazil, rather than explosions 
like the one India touched off, 
would start the dominoes toppling. 
A nuclear cartel would make a 
stronger push necessary to start them 
on their way. 

OPEC cannot endure forever. But 
while it lasts, it brings its members 
revenue that they can turn to their 

own purposes. A nuclear exporters 
cartel cannot quarantine the nuclear 
club permanently. But by making 
the acquisition of a bomb more diffi- 
cult and costly, it can stretch out the 
rate at which new members join the 
nuclear club. And by stretching out 
that rate it buys time, although it is 
impossible to calculate just how 
much. And time can have some 

There is a story of a man, con- 
demned to death by a king, who 
promised that if his life were spared 
he could teach the king's favorite 
horse to talk within two years. He 
received a reprieve on the condition 
that he do so. "You fool," a friend 
reproached him, "you'll never teach 
that horse to talk." "True," he re- 
plied, "but at least I have two years, 
and in two years anything may hap- 
pen: I may die. The king may die. 
The horse may die." 

In the time that a cartel can fur- 
nish, an international regime for the 
nuclear fuel cycle may come into 
existence; or nuclear energy may 
prove supremely unattractive to the 
developing nations; or some of the 
political issues that cause states to 
want nuclear weapons may be 
solved, or fade away. 


1. Among the recent published writings on the subject of 
proliferation, and how to stop it, are Lincoln P. Bloomfield, 
"Nuclear Spread and World Order," Foreign Affairs, 53:4 
(July 1975); Hedley Bull, "Rethinking Non-Proliferation, " 
International Affairs, 51:2 (April 1975); William O. Doub 
and Joseph M. Dukert, "Making Nuclear Energy Safe and 
Secure," Foreign Affairs, 53:4 (July 1975); Alton Frye, "How 
to Ban the Bomb: Sell It," New York Times Magazine, Jan. 
11, 1966; John Maddox, "Prospects for Nuclear Prolifera- 
tion," Adelphi Paper 1 13 (London: International Institute for 
Strategic Studies, 1975); George Quester, "Can Proliferation 
Now Be Stopped?" Foreign Affairs, 53:1 (Oct. 1974); and 
Adlai Stevenson III, "Nuclear Reactors; America Must Act," 
Foreign Affairs. 53:1 (Oct. 1974). The most comprehensive 
treatment of the subject is to be found in William Epstein, The 
Last Chance: Nuclear Proliferation and Anns Control (New 
York: The Free Press, 1976). 

2. Abraham A. Ribicoff, "A Market-Sharing Approach to 
the World Nuclear Sales Problem,'' Foreign Affairs, 544 
(July 1976). See also Ribicoff, "Trading in Doom," New York 
Times, March 26, 1976. 

37-189 O - 79 - 21 


The idea of a nuclear exporters' cartel seems to have 
originated with Steven Baker, to whom this author is indebt- 
ed for help in the preparation of this article. See Steven J. 
Baker, Commercial Nuclear Power and Nuclear Prolifera- 
tion, Cornell University Peace Studies Program Occasional 
Paper No. 5, May 1975, p. 44; "Testimony Before the 
Committee on Government Operations," U.S. Senate, Jan. 
20, 1976; and "Monopoly or Cartel?" Foreign Policy, 23 
(Summer 1976). 

A somewhat different proposal by the Finnish 
government — a compact among nuclear purchasers to buy 
only from suppliers that demand proper safeguards on their 
exports, that is, in effect a consumer boycott of vendors of 
dangerous nuclear equipment — received favorable mention 
in a speech by President-elect Carter at the United Nations 
last May. See Jimmy Carter, "Three Steps toward Nuclear 
Responsibility," Bulletin, Oct. 1976. 

3. More general guarantees for non-nuclear states have 
also been offered. Immediately after the first Chinese nuclear 
explosion President Johnson promised them "strong support 
against nuclear blackmail." In 1966 Soviet Prime Minister 
Kosygin suggested that a nonproliferation treaty include a 
clause prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons against signa- 
tories that had no such weapons on their territory. And in 
1968 the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain 
submitted a resolution to the U.N. Security Council, which 
officially welcomed it, that they would be prepared (o 
respond to nuclear aggression anywhere in accordance with 
the U.N. Charter. None of these binds any state to anything in 
particular, and thus none has had, or is likely to have, any real 
effect on the nuclear calculation of a non-nuclear state. 

4. See, for example, Epstein, The Last Chance, chap. 20. 

5. For arguments in favor of reinforcing international 
safeguards to prohibit proliferation see Bull, "Rethinking 
Non-Proliferation, " Doub and Dukert, "Making Nuclear 
Energy Safe and Secure," and Maddox, "Prospects for Nucle- 
ar Proliferation." 

6. New York Times, Feb. 29, 1976. 

7. Senator Adlai Stevenson proposed a one-year moratori- 
um on nations that do not adhere to IAEA safeguards. 
Stevenson, "Nuclear Reactors," and David Lilienthal, former 
AEC chairman, subsequently suggested a flat embargo on all 
nuclear sales by the United States, see New York Times, Jan. 
20, 1976. See also Paul C. Joskow, "The International 
Nuclear Industry Today," Foreign Affairs, 54:4 (July 1976). 
And President-elect Carter in his May address to the United 
Nations called for a worldwide "voluntary moratorium on 
the national purchase or sale of enrichment or reprocessing 
plants" until provisions for multinational fuel fabrication 
facilities can be made." 

8. See Norman Gall, "Atoms for Brazil, Dangers for All," 
Foreign Policy, 23 (Summer 1976); and Bulletin of Atomic 
Scientists, June 1976. See also William Lowrance, "Nuclear 
Futures for Sale: To Brazil from West Germany, 1975," 
International Security, 1:2 (Fall 1976). 

9. France has contracted to sell a reprocessing plant to 
Pakistan, and was negotiating a similar transaction with 
South Korea. American disapproval squelched the second 

arrangement and has forced a reconsideration of the first. 
Germany, meanwhile, has begun talks with Iran about 
nuclear sales. 

10. Baker does use the term. 

11. In June 1976, four other nations joined the London 
talks: Sweden, East Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy. It 
was reported that Belgium and Czechoslovakia were consid- 
ering sending observers. New York Times, June 2, 1976. 

12. See Mason Willrich and Philip M. Marston, "Prospects 
for a Uranium Cartel," Orbis (Spring 1975). 

13. Such a cartel might resolve to stop selling uranium in 
any form to any nation that decided to equip itself with 
nuclear weapons. An effective "uranium cartel" of this sort 
would have to include South Africa, and probably Niger and 
Gabon also. This might present problems of coordination and 
political consensus that would not afflict an association of the 
United States, Canada, and Australia. 

14. Ribicoff, "A Market-Sharing Approach." 

15. OPECs formal organization existed well before 1973, 
but as it was not able to manipulate the price of petroleum 
until then, it was not, properly speaking, a cartel. Formal 
coordination does help to keep the cartel working. Oil prices 
might well have crept upward without the embargo. But it is 
not likely that they would have risen as far as rapidly as they 
have since 1973 without it. For an extensive discussion of 
OPEC, see Raymond Vernon, ed., "The Oil Crisis," Daeda- 
lus, Fall 1975. 

16. For several suggestions of ways to divide the world 
market see Ribicoff, "A Market-Sharing Approach." It is of 
course much easier to divide oil than reactprs, which come 
in large, bulky, expensive units that cannot readily be taken 

17. See Ribicoff, "A Market-Sharing Approach," p. 779. 

18. There are additional problems here. As more and more 
nations enter the export market, the common compensation 
fund would have to expand to make up the losses of potential 
sales their self-restraint has brought them. 

19. For some of the estimates, see Richard J. 8arber 
Associates, Inc., "LDC Nuclear Power Prospects, 1975- 
1990: Commercial, Economic and Security Implications," 
ERDA-52, 1975. 

20. See Ribicoff, "A Market-Sharing Approach," Doub and 
Dukert, "Making Nuclear Energy Safe and Secure," and 
Bloomfield, "Nuclear Spread." President-elect Carter also 
commented favorably upon the idea in his May U.N. speech. 

21. One of these programs, Eurodif, a French-dominated 
undertaking, presents special difficulties for non-proliferation 
because Iran has a financial interest in it. 

22. The term is from Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. 
Nye, Jr., Power and Interdependence ( Boston: Little, Brown, 

23. These substitutes are unlikely to bring the price of oil 
down very far, however, since they themselves are costly to 

24. See David E. Rundquist, Tsahi Gozani, Clann M. 
Reynolds, "Technology for Nuclear Weapons Capability," 
Science Applications, July 1975. There have been reports 
that Taiwan has assembled a small reprocessing plant and is 
beginning to collect a small supply of plutonium. (New York 
Times, Aug. 30, 1976.) 

HI 1 


The following paper was presented 
by Dr. T. N. Marsham, CBE, 
Managing Director, Northern 
Division, UKAEA, to the Forum on 
Nuclear Power and the Energy 
Future held by the Royal Institution 
on 11th-12th October, 1977. 

1. Introduction 

It is popular today to propose that we should 
have a planned energy policy. The fast 
reactor technology that we now have is a 
result of such planning and studies of energy 
policies, energy resources and needs and of 
acceptable safety and environmental 

Fortunate for us that these studies were 
carried out over a quarter of a century age. 
Fortunate also that they resulted in action 
being taken to embark on the long range 
development and demonstration programme 
that was seen 10 be required and not simply 
in the prolongation of debate in substitute for 
action which is having such a debilitating 
effect on the quality of life and on the pros- 
perity of this country today. In consequence 
it now seems likely that there is no necessity 
for longer term energy shortages or even 
increased diversion of resources into meeting 
energy requirements unless we choose to 
suffer these. 

As for any long term development, the case 
for the development of fast reactors to provide 
a new option for primary energy supplies 
depended on forecasts of many factors. The 
enormous additional energy resource of 
uranium when released through the sequence 
of fission in slow neutron and fast neutron 
reactors has, not surprisingly, enabled the 

overseas in an extremely encouraging manner 
Fast reactors have already produced large 
quantities of electricity and the limited 
number of engineering and technical prob- 
lems remaining before large scale exploitation 
can be embarked upon should readily be 
resolved by the research and development 
programmes in progress. There is every con- 
fidence that acceptable safety standards can 
be met and demonstrated before large instal- 
lation programmes need to be initiated. The 
increasing violence in society has raised new 
problems in recent years, but again solutions 
are available which will make fast reactors 
and their fuels unlikely and unprofitable 
targets. Attention would be much better 
directed at considering both the many more 
vulnerable targets and the iemedial measures 
for the basic causes of the problems which 
are not in any way related to fast reactors and 
which would not be removed by a decision 
not to exploit this energy source. 

We should be grateful for the skilled and 
dedicated efforts in this country and else- 
where that have provided us with a demon- 
strated source of energy that is capable of 
meeting our energy needs for centuries to 
come without excessive use of lesources for 
which the world has many other calls. It is 
true that there are still technical and other 
case to be sustained over all the changes in 
the energy scene, though these have not been 
so large or so unexpected as is sometimes 
implied. In my view the need for, and benefits 
to be derived from, the successful introduction 
of fast reactors are even greater than was 
originally foreseen. As a result of the prudent 
decision to start the development in good 
time, there has been no pressure to take short- 
• cuts in developing the technology and the 
step by step demonstration of all aspects of 
the system has proceeded in this country and 

Marsham, T. M. The Fast Reactor and the Plutonium 
Fuel Cycle. In Atom, vol. 253, Nov. 1977, pp. 
297-311. Copyright material reproduced with 
permission of copyright holder. 


problems to be resolved in bringing fast 
reactors to the position where they can be 
regarded as a secure and acceptable energy 
option and then in introducing them on the 
required scale, if, as expected, events prove 
this to be necessary. We should now concen- 
trate on solving the problems, rather than 
continuing to debate them. 

Some of the outstanding problems in the 
important area of publ ic acceptability res ult 
from misconceptTulii. UUUUl laU UUUlois'^hat 
continue to receive publicity. It is frequently 
stated that they are the major or even unique 
producers of plutonium; in fact, they are 
substantial consumers of plutonium and 
much smaller net producers of plutonium 
than present nuclear plants. Fast reactors 
can be designed to produce only the amount 
of additional plutonium necessary for the 
expansion of the electricity system. It is said 
that the technology is new and unproven; in 
fact nuclear electricity was first produced in 
a fast reactor 26 years ago and it is our oldest 
and most firmly based nuclear technology, 
development having extended over some 30 
years. It is not a rival to present nuclear 
systems, but an essential complement to them 
in providing the best outlet for their waste 
uranium and by-product plutonium. The 
purpose of this paper is to put in perspective 
the role that fast reactors can play in the UK, 
and, to describe the stage we have now reached 
in the step by step development of the techno- 
logy and demonstration of the acceptability of 
the reactor system and its fuel cycle. The paper 
concludes with recommendations on how we 
should proceed to resolve outstanding prob- 
lems to make available this most important 
energy option and achieve the greatest 
possible benefit from the outstanding work 
that has been carried out in this country. 

2. The role of the fast reactor 

World energy situation 

The persistent trend for world energy use to 
outstrip new discoveries of fossil fuels with 
the consequence of inevitable shortages arising 
next century, is well documented. The cheaper 
sources of oil and gas will be depleted first, 
pointing to the prospect of a steady upward 
trend in fuel costs. In the absence of a new 
major source of energy nuclear power is the 
only demonstrated source of adequate capa- 
city and acceptable demands on other re- 
sources. In addition to the problem of actual 
shortages occurring in the longer term, rising 
energy costs are likely to become an important 
constraint on the level of economic activity 
towards the end of this century. Both aspects 

require careful study in considering the role 
and timing of nuclear power and fast reactors. 

The role of electricity 

Over a long period of time the use of energy 
in the form of electricity has been increasing 
faster than the use of other forms of energy 
because of its versatility and efficiency in 
end-use. In replacing oil and reducing the 
demand for coal as fuels for electricity genera- 
tion, uranium used in nuclear power stations 
can help to minimise increases in electricity 
costs and improve its competitive position 
relative to the direct use of fossil fuels. 

World uranium situation 

The world's known low cost uranium re- 
sources amount to no more than 2-0 million 
t.U, with a similar quantity of estimated 
additional resources. Further discoveries will, 
of course, be made, but continued reliance on 
thermal reactors seems likely to deplete low 
cost resources within a few decades and to 
lead to an upward trend in prices to match 
those of fossil fuels. This could ultimately 
result in uranium prices as high as $100/lb 
U 3 8 and the familiar problems of ensuring 
supplies for countries such as the UK with no 
indigenous resources. 

In a balanced nuclear power programme, 
thermal reactors and fast reactors are comple- 
mentary. The latter make use of plutonium 
and waste uranium discarded from the fuel 
cycle of the former when it is too depleted in 
U-235 for further use but is the ideal source 
material for fast reactors. Thus the need to 
buy and enrich fresh uranium is avoided 
and this has been recognised for many years 
in the UK (see for example Cmnd 9389— A 
programme for nuclear power, February 1955) 
and in the programmes of nuclear power 
development in other countries. 

Based on present day reactor technology, 
1 000 MWe of thermal reactor capacity will 
use 3 600 tonnes of natural uranium during 
its life-time. Of this natural uranium, 99 per 
cent will be turned into "waste" depleted 
uranium and there is no conceivable advance 
in thermal reactor technology that would 
enable this feed of natural uranium to be 
reduced significantly or enable the waste 
uranium to be used. 

Thus, while obviously the larger the fast 
reactor programme the larger the overall 
effect, each fast reactor installed in place of a 
thermal reactor produces an immediate 
reduction in uranium imports and represents 
a tranche of capacity secure from the actions 
of outside fuel suppliers. This characteristic 


is independent of the actual breeding per- 
formance of the reactor, any additional 
plutonium formed being a further enhance- 
ment of fuel supplies. 

In this way, some- 60 per cent of the energy 
in uranium can be extracted instead of about 
1 per cent, making each ton of uranium the 
equivalent of up to 2 000 000 tons of coal. 
The world's known uranium resources then 
become the largest and cheapest energy 
source available, capable of meeting any 
likely level of demand far into the future. 

The UK situation 

To fix the size of the nuclear component in 
the electricity generating system and the likely 
demand for uranium, a full economic and 
logistic assessment of the various alternative 
ways of meeting the energy demand must be 
made. This system analysis is used to deter- 
mine the mix giving the minimum total cost 
of meeting future power demands while satis- 
fying any other criteria that may be imposed. 
The assessment must allow for the nuclear 
reactor and fossil fuel types available and 
their associated capital, operating and de- 
commissioning costs, for the availability of 
nuclear and fossil fuels and for their likely 
price levels in the future. Account must be 
taken of the cost of waste storage and protec- 
tion of the environment and of the likely 
timescale anu costs of achieving development 
objectives. Furthermore, for any given power 
station type, the importance of achieving 
certain performance characteristics should be 
assessed. For fast reactors it is especially 
necessary to judge the sensitivity of the entire 
system to various reactor parameters such as 
fuel geometry, rating and burn-up and the 
performance characteristics of supporting 
services: re-cycling times and waste materials 
from fuel processing plant can be cited as 

In addition, an assessment of the future 
electricity generating requirements must be 
made. Such assessment yields a range of 
possible future programmes which enables 
the sensitivity of conclusions to programme 
size to be tested. Normally, some continued 
growth is implicit in much of this work. 
However, care must be taken that notional 
expanding power programmes are realistic 
and do not imply either impracticable growth 
rates or unachievable step changes in the type of 
generating station incorporated in the system. 
Inadequate attention to such factors has been 
characteristic of certain over-simplified 
analyses that have been published suggesting 
a very limited role for the fast reactor in 
meeting energy problems. Unsound con- 

clusions have arisen too from concentration 
on one particular resource without consider- 
ation of the demands on others, and on 
assuming indefinite continuation of reactor 
performance characteristics chosen to 
match one pattern of energy demand should 
the actual demand pattern prove different. 
In what follows, the characteristics of the 
reactor designs adopted are well established. 
They are supported by on-going research and 
development programmes, which include also 
work directed at longer-term improvements 
and alternatives in the event that some 
features are not realised or that external 
requirements change. 

UK demands 

For the UK with its economic problems and 
no significant indigenous uranium resources, 
it is especially necessary to take advantage of 
the potential of fast reactors for securing the 
heapest possible electricity supplies and the 
earliest possible freedom from the need to 
import uranium. For illustration a typical 
electricity generation programme for the UK 
is shown in figure 1. Electricity generation 
grows at 5 per cent p.a. in the short term falling 
to 2 per cent in the longer term with a mean 
rate of 3 per cent over the next 50 years. The 
nuclear component of this programme is 
shown in the lower curve. The pattern is 
typical of many that have been considered in 
recent years. Figure 2 shows the annual 
quantity and value of uranium imports 
required for all-thermal and mixed thermal 
and fast reactor strategies that are needed to 
meet the nuclear component. The upper 
curves indicate the quantity and value of 
uranium for an all-thermal reactor pro- 
gramme with and without plutonium recycle. 
The lowest curve shows these requirements if 
series ordering of fast reactors is commenced 
in the mid-1990s when it will be technically 
feasible to do so. Other curves show the effect 
of delays in the fast reactor programme. With 
the early fast reactor programme, annual 
uranium imports would rise to a maximum of 
5 500 tonnes in year 2000 and then fall steadily 
to zero by 2050. With 5 and 15-year delays in 
the series ordering of fast reactors, maximum 
annual demands rise to 7 500 and 1 2 000 
tonnes respectively. Without fast reactors the 
annual requirement for uranium will rise 
continually and will approach 17 000 tonnes 
by 2025. Cumulative uranium requirements 
will reach a maximum of around 250 000 
tonnes with fast reactors but approach one 
million tonnes by 2050 with thermal reactors 
only. While the former quantity should be 
obtainable, there is no evidence at all that the 

2010 2020 


Fig. 1 Illustrative electrical installation programme. 

requirements for a purely thermal reactor 
programme could be obtained by the UK. 

Even assuming large uranium imports are 
achievable these would attract large foreign 
currency expenditures. In the period under 
consideration a likely range for uranium ore 
prices is some $50-100 per lb U 3 8 in present 
day money values. With an early fast reactor 
programme import costs will reach a maxi- 
mum of £4O0-8O0m per annum and will then 
steadily fall to 2ero. With an all-thermal 
reactor programme imports could reach 
£1 000-2 000m per annum by 2020 and have 
almost doubled after a further 20 years 

and with an all-thermal programme uranium 
prices are certain to be at the top end of 
the range. 

Overall economics 

While it is expected that fast reactors will have 
a somewhat higher capital cost than thermal 
reactors, the difference will be more than 
offset by the savings in uranium and uranium 
enrichment unless the cost of uranium is very 
low. These uranium and enrichment costs do 
not arise in the fast reactor fuel cycle, the 
costs of which are essentially independent of 
the uranium price. Thus at $100/lb U,0 8 the 











£ M pa 



S 50 fclOO 


230Kt <t / / 


// J 

*9 / N/ / 

1600 3200 




1400 2 BOO 


// * V 


/ v/ 

/ ?/ 

/ / 

1200 2400 


/ / 

/ / 


IOOO 2000 

/ / ' 
/ / 



/ / 

/ A 
/ / \ 

eoo I600 


/ \ / FR SERIES 
/ \ ABOUT 2010 


/ \ 


600 1200 

f / 

*y^WITH \ 

/ / 


/ / 



/ / 

/ / / 
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\ABOUT 2000 \ 

400 BOO 



WITH ^. \ 


IN \\ \ 

MID — 1990s \N. \ 


200 400 




i . 

L.... 1 1 \ » ^5^E= 



Fig. 2 Uranium imports required for alternative nuclear strategies. 

fast reactor has a fuel cycle cost advantage 
over thermal reactors, equivalent in capital 
cost to at least £290/kW and some £170/kW 
at $50/lb U 3 8 , the lowest price likely by the 
time the fast reactor would be available. The 
capital cost of thermal reactor power stations 
is now about £500/kW, and although early 

fast reactors are expected to cost about 
25 per cent more than this, the fuel cycle cost 
advantage of the fast reactor is moie than 
sufficient to offset the capital cost disadvan- 
tage. The capital cost differential for later fast 
reactor stations will be smaller. 
These comparisons derive from the con- 


2010 2020 



Fig. 3 Fossil fuel requirements for illustrative electrical installation programme. 

sideration of single nuclear power stations in 
isolation. To be realistic, the consequences of 
alternative strategies including thermal and 
fast reactors and fossil fuel stations on the 
total system costs must be assessed using the 
realistic systems analysis described earlier. 
When this is done properly the following 
conclusions can be drawn: 
(i) The advantage in total costs of 
systems with a substantial nuclear com- 
ponent with fossil stations meeting low 
load factor demands, over all fossil 
station systems in the last decade of the 
century will be substantial. System 
analysis shows that the expenditure on 
electricity generation will be minimised 
if around 80 per cent of all new plant 
installed is nuclear. 
(ii) On this basis a sensible pattern for the 

use of fossil fuels for electricity genera- 
tion is obtained. Figure 3 shows that for 
the illustrative programme used in this 
paper, the fossil fuel used for electricity 
generation stabilises at around the present 
level of 1 00 mtce per annum unti 1 the 1 990s . 
Thereafter it falls markedly making fossil 
fuels increasingly available for transport, 
SNG and chemical feedstock uses at the 
time when North Sea oil and gas supplies 
will be falling. Without further nuclear 
power the fossil burn for electricity 
generation is likely to rise to at least 200 
mtce per annum by the turn of the century, 
(iii) To restrict the total UK uranium imports 
to a realisable figure around 200-300 kt, 
the fast reactor programme should be 
launched as soon as possible before the 
turn of the century. If the generating 


programme were to be based solely on 
thermal reactors, or if the fast reactor 
were delayed for a few years, the com- 
mitted total uranium requirements* 
would have exceeded these figures by 
2005. By 2020 an all-thermal reactor 
programme would incur an additional 
import bill of £1 000-2 000m per annum 
even on the optimistic assumption that 
uranium remains in plentiful supply in 
the price range of $50-100/lb U 3 8 . 

3. Status of FR system technology 

The nuclear plant 

It is often stated that the fast reactor is a new 
and undeveloped system with many unsolved 
or undiscovered problems. In fact, the first 
small power fast reactor (Clementine, 25 kW) 
began operation 28 years ago and EBR I was 
the first reactor of any kind to generate 
electric power (in December 1951). During 
the last quarter-century there has been a 
continuous world-wide development pro- 
gramme on liquid-metal-cooled fast reactors, 
with the result that our knowledge of fuel 
performance, safety and the general operation 
of fast reactors is in a far more advanced state 
than was that of the existing thermal reactor 
systems at the time of their first commercial 

Serious consideration of the engineering of 
the fast system in the UK dates from 1951 
when uranium supplies were scarce and the 
ability to make use of the U-238 was regarded 
as an essential long term aim of the UK power 
programme. It was foreseen that the fast 
reactor would be complementary to the 
thermal reactor programme in that it would 
make full use of the plutonium that would 
arise as a by-product from the thermal 
reactors. The Dounreay Fast Reactor which 
first operated in 1959 was constructed to 
explore the technology of fast reactor systems 
and during its extraordinarily successful life 
of 17 years provided data on all aspects of 
fast reactor design and opeiation. During this 
period electricity generation began to be 
concentrated in large power stations and 
interest moved towards stations of 1 000 
MW(e) in size. Construction of the Prototype 
Fast Reactor (PFR: 250 MW(e) ) was begun 
in 1967. 

The policy of seeking to demonstrate pro- 
gressively all features of a commercial reactor 
and its fuel cycle was followed. The decision 

•Committed total uranium requirement = the total 
uranium already imported up to a given date 4- 
the uranium necessary beyond that date to fuel 
the life of the then existing stations. 

was made to make all the major changes 
between DFR and PFR, so that the final step 
from PFR to commercial plants would be 
technically very small and provide confidence 
that even the early commercial-sized installa- 
tions would operate economically and reliably. 
The major changes which are now being 
demonstrated in PFR are: 

(1) Mixed plutonium-uranium oxide fuel in 
place of the uranium metal fuel of DFR. 

(2) Mechanical sodium pumps in place of 
electromagnetic pumps. 

(3) The coolant was changed from sodium- 
potassium alloy to sodium. 

(4) The steam generators in DFR which were 
of expensive construction unsuitable for 
use in a commercial station were replaced 
by more economic designs of a size com- 
parable to those to be used in a full-scale 

(5) The operating temperaturjes were raised to 
levels suitable for standard turbines. 

(6) The primary circuit was changed from a 
loop design to a pool design with all 
primary components in a single tank to 
enhance safety by effectively eliminating 
the possibility of loss of coolant. 

The most striking feature of PFR opera- 
tional experience has been the excellent per- 
formance of the primary and secondary 
sodium circuits. In these plant areas major 
steps forward in plant size, complexity and 
operating conditions were taken from the 
limited experience in DFR and development 
rigs. Hitherto untried mechanical sodium 
pumps, intermediate heat exchangers, rotating 
shields, fuel handling equipment and a wide 
array of newly developed instruments were 
brought together for the first time in circuits 
containing the largest accumulation (about 
1 000 t) of sodium in the UK. The immediate 
use of a fully plutonium fuelled reactor core is 
a feature not yet followed in other countries. 
The major components operating in the 
sodium environment have performed extreme- 
ly well; the sodium pumps have operated 
continuously for four years with an availability 
close to 100 per cent; the fuel handling 
machinery was used to load the first core 
within a month or so of sodium filling and 
immediately achieved the design specification ; 
the operation of the reactor over the whole 
power range has been completely straight- 
forward; there has been only one very minor 
leak of secondary sodium; radiation levels 
have been well below the authoi ised standards 
in all working areas. There have been no 
maintenance problems on sodium plant of any 
substance. The myth that sodium is an 
awkward process fluid has been destroyed 


Table 1 

Main Parameters 

Electrical power output 

Gross thermal power 

No of reactors 

No of fuel sub-assemblies 

No of secondary circuits 

No of evaporators 

No of superheaters 

No of turbo-generators 



250 MW 
600 MW 


1320 MW 
3230 MW 




particularly when compared with the high 
pressure, more corrosive and less reliable 
^team and water plant at the conventional end 
of the station. For the Commercial Demon- 
stration Fast Reactor this experience justifies 
confidence in the design and manufacture of 
the main components for the primary and 
secondary circuits bearing in mind the 
modest extrapolation in size being proposed. 

In detail, the operating statistics of signifi- 
-cant equipment have been as follows. The 
reactor has operated for 20 000 hours and the 
primary circuit pumps have accumulated a 
total running time of 80 000 hours. The total 
-cumulative number of control rod and shut 
off rod operations during tests and trips has 
been about 1 000. The evidence from measure- 
ments taken during these rod drops has shown 
that there has been no delay in actuation and 
that all of the systems have operated correctly. 
The number of fuel handling movements 
carried out within the reactor, both with 
<lummy and real fuel elements, has been over 
600. The equipment has worked satisfactorily 
except right at the beginning when the lifting 
jaws did not operate correctly and failed to 
lift a sub-assembly. This was subsequently 
rectified and the 600 fuel transfers took place 
without further problems. In the secondary 
circuits the cumulative sodium pump running 
hours has been 45 000. In circuits 1, 2 and 3 
the evaporators have operated on steam for 
12 000, 4 000 and 3 000 hours, the reheaters 
4 700 and 3 500 hours and the supei heaters 
7 600, 3 600 and 2 700 respectively. 

Advantage has been taken of this excellent 
experience with PFR in designing the first 
Commercial Demonstration Fast Reactor 
<CDFR). The main features of PFR have been 
retained. The core size will be increased from 

75 sub-assemblies to 300. There will be six 
primary pumps compared with the three in 
PFR and 32 sodium-water heat exchangers in 
eight secondary circuits compared with the 
nine exchangers in three circuits in PFR. 

As a result many of the major components 
are little larger than the PFR components 
despite the five-fold increase in power level. A 
comparison of the parameters and the scale 
up factors are given in Tables 1 and 2. In 
addition temperatures in the reactor have been 
lowered slightly (see Table 3). This eases 
thermal stress problems and allows the use of 
fenitic steel superheaters in place of the 
stainless steel designs used in PFR. The 
lowering of temperatuies results in a very 
small reduction in thetmodynamic efficiency, 
but will result in a more reliable plant. 

Table 2 

Scale-up factors 

Electrical power output . . 

x 5-3 

Primary tank diameter 

. x 1-9 

Fuel sub-assembly length . . 

x 1-1 

Fuel sub-assembly power. . 

x 11 

Primary pump flow 

x 2-5 

IHX power 

x 40 

Evaporator power 

x 1-3 

Superheater power 

x 10 

Apart trom this lowering of temperatures 
some changes in design style have been intro- 
duced where clear advantages were seen as a 
result of experience from PFR supplemented 
by information from other home and overseas 


Table 3 

Thermal Parameters 

Fuel pin linear rating (max) 

Fuel can temperature (max) 

Core Inlet Temperature (mixed mean) . . 

Core Outlet Temperature (mixed mean) 

Steam Temperature 


420 W/cm 






420 W/cm 





programmes. Among the more important of 
these are: 

(i) The use of a pre-stressed concrete primary 
containment in place of a steel one. This 
avoids the scale-up problem on this item 
and permits higher standards of contain- 
ment to be provided. It builds upon 
UK experience from the AGRs. 

(ii) The change to ferritic superheater and to 
a design for these and for the evaporators 
which avoids welds in the gas space as 
well as under sodium. A steel of which 
our boilermakers have extensive and 
satisfactory experience from the AGR 
programme has been chosen. 

These are relatively detailed differences and 
there are relatively few unknowns in the 
extrapolation from PFR to CDFR and, cor- 
respondingly, a high confidence that this type 
of power station can be built for safe and 
reliable operation. 

The fast reactor fuel cycle 

The plutonium content of fast reactor fuel is 
high and the dwell time within the reactor 
core is relatively short. The separation of the 
remaining plutonium from the irradiated fuel 
and its re-employment in fresh reactor fuel is 
therefore an important part of the fuel cycle. 
These operations must be carried out in a 
highly efficient manner and with the least 
delay possible in order that the total amount 
of plutonium employed in the whole cycle for 
any one fast reactor installation may be kept 
to a minimum. Thus efficiency in the fuel 
cycle leads to the best use being made of the 
initial supply of plutonium formed in thermal 
reactors and ultimately this is reflected in 
minimising uranium imports for a balanced 
thermal and fast reactor power programme. 
The external part of the fast reactor fuel 
cycle has four main parts : 

Irradiated fuel handling 

Chemical reprocessing 

Refabrication and transport 
Waste management 
Development work is being carried out on 
all these topics and as in the case of the 
reactor itself all their main features will be 
demonstrated in the course of the PFR 

■ \ 
Irradiated fuel handling 

Immediately on discharge from the reactor, 
fuel elements have a high heat output due to 
the radioactivity of the fission products. It is 
intended that the fuel elements for CDFR will 
be stored for some time in liquid sodium to 
allow the shorter lived fission products to 
decay and the sub-assembly heat output to 
fall to about 1 1 kW. After the heat output has 
fallen to moderate levels individual sub- 
assemblies are sealed in stainless steel sodium 
filled cans which are then placed in holes in 
massive solid steel flasks. These flasks have 
been designed to meet the 1973 IAEA regula- 
tions for the Safe Transport of Radioactive 
Materials but including more onerous condi- 
tions for fire and impact. The principles 
embodied in these Regulations have deter- 
mined the transport of fuel throughout the 
world over millions of ton-miles and no 
significant incidents involving the general 
public have taken place. On arrival at the 
chemical reprocessing plant the residual 
sodium is to be removed from the fuel assem- 
blies by a mixture of inert gas and steam 
before breaking up the fuel pins and dissolving 
the fuel for reprocessing. 

Chemical reprocessing 

The solvent extraction process used for 
reprocessing fast reactor fuel has been used 
in the UK by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd for 
the reprocessing of Magnox fuel for 25 years 
during which time 20 000 tonnes of fuel have 
been reprocessed. About 500 tonnes of oxide 
fuels have also been reprocessed by this 
technology as have tens of tonnes of highly 


enriched uranium for the DFR programme. 
This flexible process can be used to separate 
fissile and fertile materials from fission pro- 
ducts and from each other. Fast reactor oxide 
fuel has a higher burn-up and a higher 
Plutonium content than thermal reactor fuel 
and these differences are important in the 
design of the plant. A process has to be 
incorporated to remove insoluble noble metal 
fission product alloys. The high plutonium 
content of the fuel requires design measures 
to avoid accidental criticality. Geometrically 
limited equipment or fixed or soluble neutron 
absorbers as "poisons" are introduced to 
control this situation. 

Fuel fabrication 

A fuel fabrication plant was built at Windscale 
to manufacture fuel for PFR. To date about 
5 tonnes of mixed uraruum-plutonium oxide 
fuel have been manufactured successfully for 
this purpose. It is intended to recycle the 
plutonium recovered by reprocessing PFR 
fuel at Dounreay through the Windscale fuel 
fabrication plant as a demonstration of the 
recycle and refabrication of fast . reactor 
plutonium. To demonstrate an alternative 
method of operation and to avoid the trans- 
port of new fast reactor fuel from Windscale 
to Dounreay consideration is being given to 
building a new fabrication plant at the PFR 
site. In all future installations fuel fabrication 
could be carried out adjacent to reprocessing 

The conventional process for the manufac- 
ture of fast reactor fuel is derived from the 
considerable experience of uranium pellet-fuel 
fabrication, modified with the object of con- 
taining plutonium-bearing powders. Con- 
sideration is being given to whether the 
processing of powders with the problem of 
containing dust is the best approach to 
mixed-oxide fuel manufacture. An alternative 
approach is to select a liquid plutonium con- 
version process for the specific purpose of 
eliminating powder handling, and then to 
examine the nature and performance of the 
fuel that results from this process. A typical 
example, now being examined in the UK, is 
the gel precipitation process, where mixed 
nitrates, conditioned with a gelling agent, are 
precipitated directly to microspheres. A 
possible disadvantage is the lower smear 
density normally obtainable with particulate 
fuel as compared with pelleted fuel which can 
reduce reactor breeding performance. How- 
ever, the reduced number of process stages, 
the wet nature of the operations, and the non- 
dusty properties of the product could reduce 
the contamination within gloveboxes and 

alternative containment designs, and hence 
operator dosage and arisings of plutonium- 
contaminated materials. The gel granules 
have a relatively high resistance to dispersal 
when compared with powders and have the 
additional security advantage that only mixed 
uranium and plutonium components would 
be produced. An oxide pilot plant is under 
construction at Windscale to make fuel of 
this type for irradiation proving in PFR and 
the concept is under consideration for full 
demonstration at Dounreay for comparison 
with improved pelleting routes. 

Waste manage 

There is no important difference in the fission 
product content of the high activity liquid 
wastes produced from thermal and fast 
reactors. These wastes are, initially stored for 
some years in large leak, prtjof tanks which are 
cooled until most of the initial activity has 
died away. The 'UK policy for their ultimate 
treatment is to develop a vitrification process 
to incorporate calcined fission product oxides 
into glass. BNFL have been engaged in the 
development of one such process designated 
HARVEST for the last five years and their 
current programme envisages a pilot plant 
in operation by 1978 and a single line demon- 
stration plant by the mid 1980s. The Authority 
is carrying out a design study to determine how 
best to complement the BNFL development 
and accelerate the practical demonstration of 
vitrification on a plant scale for the fast 
reactor programme. UK development work 
on ultimate disposal of vitrified waste into 
geological formations forms part of a colla- 
borative project with other EEC countries. 
International collaboration is also taking 
place on deep ocean disposal of high level 
vitrified waste. 

Wastes of lower activity principally arise 
from plutonium contamination of working 
materials. At Windscale works and at Doun- 
reay methods of treating, concentrating and 
decontaminating these wastes are under 
development and will be introduced on a plant 
scale. Development work on the volume 
reduction, plutonium recovery, packaging, 
retrievable storage and sea disposal of 
plutonium contaminated solid wastes is 
being carried out jointly by UKAEA/BNFL/ 
MOD at a number of establishments, notably 
Windscale works and Aldermaston where the 
wastes principally arise at present. 

The fast reactor fuel fabrication process 
produces a proportion of scrap material 
which is out of specification or is removed 
from the production line for other reasons. 
At present this material is largely recycled 


through a central recovery plant but in future 
fast reactor fuel cycle plants the design 
principle will be to incorporate scrap recovery 
facilities so that plutonium bearing scrap is 
held at all times within the main plant security 

Further development of the fuel cycle 

The operation of all these essential features of 
the fast reactor fuel cycle is being demonstrat- 
ed by recycling fuel through PFR. Some novel 
features such as laser cutting of irradiated fuel 
to minimise dust and contamination of 
equipment have been included. 

In addition the programme includes devel- 
opment of alternative processes and improved 
waste management so that a variety of options 
will be available for futuie larger scale plants 
associated with fast reactor installation 

4. Safety 

The safety case for the commercial fast reactor 
is based on the inherently good characteristics 
of the sodium cooled pool type fast reactor. 
The use of a highly efficient low pressure 
coolant system acting as a large heat sink 
together with a highly reliable shut-down 
system, reduce the risk of any accident to very 
low levels. Early reactors had metal fuel rods 
and high power densities so that the margin 
to meltdown was lower than in the present 
lower rated oxide-fuelled designs and at that 
time little was known about the Doppler 
coefficient which has a strong stabilising 
effect in modern designs. Nevertheless, from 
the start of fast reactor development much 
attention has been paid to highly improbable 
hypothetical accidents, involving uncontrolled 
power surges in the reactor. In these hypo- 
thetical accidents complete loss of flow or 
some arbitrarily large increase of reactivity is 
assumed to occur and in addition the highly 
reliable automatic protection system is assum- 
ed to fail and cause the core to melt down. It 
will never be possible to calculate the exact 
subsequent course of such speculative events, 
but there is sufficient evidence to show that 
the probability of such a "whole core re- 
activity accident" initiated either by a fault 
in a particular sub-assembly or by any other 
cause is sufficiently low to be acceptable. 
Nevertheless, development work both in the 
UK and abroad is continuing to amass data 
to confirm this conclusion. 

Despite the evidence that the probability of 

whole core accidents is acceptably low, less 

than one such accident in a million years of 

reactor operation, it is the intention that 

CDFR will have a strong containment. This 

will be provided by a strong primary contain- 
ment consisting of a prestressed concrete 
pressure vessel with a strong roof structure 
supporting the reactor components, and an 
outer secondary containment building to 
prevent the escape of any radioactivity which 
finds its way into the space above the operating 
floor. This containment system will have a 
very high probability of completely containing 
any accident though in scientific and engineer- 
ing terms it cannot be claimed that the con- 
tainment of all "whole core accidents" can be 
absolutely guaranteed. Nevertheless present 
estimates show that all realistically conceived 
extreme excursions will be completely con- 
tained. The outer containment will also resist 
impact from crashing aircraft. 

Comparisons between the safety of fast 
and thermal reactors in extreme accident 
situations tend to be unprofitable because of 
the differing nature of the systems and hence 
the differing nature o£ those low probability 
accidents that attract most attention in both 
systems. In less extreme situations the fast 
reactor has many features which improve its 
safety by comparison with thermal reactors. 
The most obvious and most important is the 
large tank of unpressurised coolant surround- 
ed by a second container which makes its loss 
hardly credible. The large tank of coolant also 
provides an excellent heat sink with the 
capability to absorb many hours of shutdown 
heat from the reactor core. Thermal reactors 
in principle can suffer the loss of their pres- 
surised coolants and require the use of fast 
acting control systems and in some cases 
elaborate arrangements for emergency core 
cooling. These differences alone provide a 
substantial advantage in safety for fast 
reactors for most of the accidents normally 
considered to be credible. 

It has been alleged that fast reactors are 
inherently less safe than thermal reactors 
because they contain more fission products 
and more plutonium than thermal reactors of 
the same size. In practice there is no significant 
difference in fission product content, and 
although the plutonium content is about four 
times higher this is not of particular import- 
ance since the hazard from plutonium in the 
core is much less than that from the fission 
products there at the same time. The only 
safety feature of fast reactors that is more 
difficult to establish than for thermal reactors 
is the effect of a highly improbable nuclear 
excursion that might take place, for example, 
as a result of a geometrical compaction of the 
core giving a reactivity increase. The whole 
design concept of the reactor seeks to avoid 
"whole core accidents" but these still remain 


the issue which attracts much attention in the 
safety study of the reactor. In both thermal 
and fast reactors a power excursion due to a 
reactivity addition will be terminated when 
the negative reactivity effects of the tempera- 
ture rise and the fuel movement cancel out the 
increase in reactivity. In a thermal reactor the 
fuel temperature rise may be insufficient to 
cause melting whereas because temperature 
effects on reactivity in a fast reactor are 
smaller the fuel could be heated to its boiling 
point. The boiling of the fuel and the heating 
of the gases within it will cause core expansion 
which will finally terminate the excursion if 
the fuel temperature effect alone has been 
insufficient to do so. Even in such a violent 
excursion as this the total energy released will 
still be relatively small and will be unlikely to 
breach the containment. 

The intent of design and development work 
is to provide additional assurance that the 
combined probabilities of the occurrence of 
any such accident and the failure of the con- 
tainment system to prevent any dangerous 
release is acceptably remote. Nevertheless it is 
reasonable to look at the consequences should 
a whole core accident result in a breach of the 
containment and a release of activity. In a 
hypothetical and very remote occurrence of 
this sort it is difficult to make any precise 
statements about the fraction of the core 
contents that might be released though a 
number of factors, such as the rapid drop in 
pressure after the initial pulse, tend to suggest 
that the fraction released would be small. But 
the design intent will be to make the prob- 
ability of any significant release so low that 
little or no reliance need be placed on the 
fraction being small. The NRPB* has recently 
published a report on the effects of release of 
activity from a fast reactor core. They were 
unable to pronounce on the probabilities of 
various sized releases but the effects of a 
release of various fractions of the core without 
reference to the probability of such releases 
were tabulated. Dispersion of a substantial 
fraction of a fast reactor core (or of a thermal 
core) would cause a large number of casual- 
ties; but no more than other hypothetical 
catastrophes in many other areas of equally 
low probability. The Nil have judged the risk 
standards of the nuclear industry to be 
acceptable and in fact to represent much 
higher standards than are demanded in any 
other industrial operation. 

Disproportionate attention has been paid 
to the effects of these very low probability 
hypothetical accidents and this may sometimes 

*Some aspects of the safety of nuclear installations 
in Great Britain. H&SE paragraphs 56-65. 

obscure the more realistic problems in a 
nuclear power programme. It has been asserted 
that fast reactors are linked with a "plutonium 
economy", whereas plutonium is in any case 
produced by thermal reactors and a pro- 
gramme including fast reactors in fact eases 
problems of management of plutonium and 
the other actinides. So far as long term 
storage problems are concerned attention 
must be paid to the accumulation of other 
actinides. Calculations have been performed 
for the alternative reactor programmes used 
in the system analysis illustration of Section 2. 
As would be expected the thermal-fast 
system contains more plutonium than the 
other systems as the installation programme 
proceeds. But in this case as when plutonium 
is recycled in thermal reactors the v^jt bulk 
of the plutonium is always inside reactor 
cores. When no-recycling takes place in an 
all thermal programme, which corresponds 
exactly to the ■ proposed no-processing situ- 
ation, vast stocks of plutonium are built up 
outside reactor cores in storage facilities. This 
plutonium would become increasingly acces- 
sible as the accompanying fission products 
decayed during storage. Furthermore the 
actinides, americium and curium are produced 
in much smaller quantities in fast reactor 
installations because the rate of non-fission 
capture of neutrons, the process which builds 
the actinides, is much smaller when the 
neutron energy distribution is well above the 
thermal range. A large part of the fast reactor 
fuel cycle research programme is aimed at 
ensuring that the plutonium, the higher 
actinides and the fission products are safely 
contained and separated from the environ- 

Terrorist activity 

As technology advances it becomes possible 
for a few individuals to pose threats to larger 
and larger numbers of people. Threats of 
radioactive contamination or the explosion of 
nuclear bombs are only two of the forms that 
these hypothetical threats might take, albeit 
ones which attract more public debate than 
some others of an equally or even more 
unpleasant nature, such as the release of 
hazardous chemicals from hijacked road or 
rail tankers. Nevertheless it is obvious that 
careful attention must be paid to guarding 
plutonium and other radioactive materials so 
as to make its theft so difficult as to be of no 
practical concern to the public. 

In a system in which fast reactors are 
generating a substantial part of the electrical 
power, at any one time about two-thirds of 
the total stock of plutonium will actually be 


in the reactors themselves. This plutonium is 
sealed into fuel pins in the core of the reactor 
and submerged in a sodium pool at over 
400 °C and is therefore immune to attack. In 
the remainder of the fuel cycle there are a 
number of places where terrorists might be 
tempted to try to steal the elements. Except 
in certain stages of the processing and re- 
fabrication plant the plutonium exists in the 
form of a mixed uranium-plutonium oxide 
ceramic, welded into stainless steel pins, 
which are in turn contained in hexagonal 
stainless steel clad sub-assemblies 12 feet long, 
7 inches in diameter and weighing £ tonne 
each. The key points of the cycle where theft 
might be attempted are : 

1. Unirradiated new fuel sub-assemblies 

(a) in store in the fuel fabrication plant 

(b) in transit 

(c) in store at the power station before 
loading in the core 

2. Irradiated sub-assemblies either 

(a) in store at the power plant 

(b) in transit 

(c) in store at the reprocessing plant 

3. Separated plutonium or mixed plutonium 
and uranium 

(a) in the reprocessing plant 

(6) in the fabrication plant 
From the point of view of a terrorist who 
wishes either to make a bomb or at least to 
threaten to make one, the order of desirability 
of the materials is : 

(1) metallic plutonium 

(2) plutonium oxide 

(3) mixed plutonium-uranium oxide 

(4) new fuel pins containing mixed Pu0 2 — 

uo 2 

For CDFR reprocessing and refabrication 
may be done on the same site so that no 
transport of pure plutonium compounds 
between sites will be necessary. Effective 
security within the plant is largely a matter of 
plant design supported by careful accounting 
of the fissile materials, but since the majority 
of operations have in any case to be carried 
out by-remote control the possibility of theft 
either by workers within the plant or terrorists 
invading the plant is small. Sabotage would 
be difficult because of the shielding and the 
diversion or theft of fissile material would be 
virtually impossible until the end of the 
reprocessing plant where fissile material is in 
the form of acidic liquid and difficult to 
abstract and transport. 

Sub-assemblies in transit between the fuel 
plants and the reactor would at first sight 
appear to be more vulnerable. It would clearly 
be self-defeating to give details of planned 

security measures, but the general principles 
would be based on the use of very heavy 
flasks each weighing over 80 tonnes. Even if 
terrorists gained control of a flask they would 
need either a very large crane to transfer the 
flask to their own vehicle, or to gain control 
of any transport used. The transport vehicle 
will be provided with effective immobilising 
devices which normally would prevent any 
movement after the start of an attack, but in 
any event, the vehicles can only travel at a 
speed so low as to be unattractive for terrorist 

Terrorists would therefore be forced to 
attempt to open the flask in situ and move the 
fuel elements themselves into a lighter, less 
conspicuous, vehicle. The flask will be de- 
signed to make it as difficult as possible for 
this to be done, with the aim of making it 
many hours and even tens of hours before the 
sub-assemblies could be extracted. It will be 
constructed to resist such devices as thermic 
lances, and explosives and in addition to the 
normal locking devices will have a lid or plug 
that requires special heavy machinery to 
operate it. The flask will also be arranged so 
that in any case it cannot be opened without 
lifting it from its transporter. Even with 
special knowledge opening such a flask would 
be a difficult and time-consuming operation — 
taking far longer than the response time of 
counter measures. 

Although knowledge of an impending 
attack would no doubt be useful, as in any 
other police operation, the safeguarding of 
the fuel would depend on these physical 
security measures and, not on phone tapping, 
mail opening, infiltration of organisations, or 
other supposed implications of security 

The above discussion was concerned mainly 
with the unirradiated fuel which a terrorist 
organisation might acquire with the object of 
using the mixed Pu0 2 -U0 2 to construct a 
bomb. Such a bomb, because of the high 
Pu-240 and the low plutonium density would 
give a low-yield device which should not be 
compared with a military warhead, but which 
would, nevertheless, serve as a terrorist threat. 
Difficulties for the terrorists would be greatly 
increased if the theft contemplated were not 
of new fuel but of the irradiated fuel being 
returned from the reactor to the reprocessing 
plant. In this case the radioactivity of the fuel 
is so high as to require the use of a shielded 
flask weighing over 100 tonnes. A combina- 
tion of physical security and the deterrent 
effect of the radiation dose which would 
rapidly be lethal if the sub-assemblies were 
removed from the flask will provide an 


adequate deterrent. Even if the fuel were by 
some means to be transferred to another 
shielded flask a remotely operated chemical 
plant would be needed to separate the pluto- 
nium. Again timescale for any of these 
operations and their nature give ample time 
for counter measures to be effective. 

Once again it should be emphasised that 
these protective measures do not depend on 
an inciease in the level of security and there is 
no reason to suppose that there would be an 
increased lestriction of civil liberties. 

5. Overall conclusions and the 
future programme 

The fast reactor should be seen as an out- 
standing opportunity to minimise future 
energy problems. If its potential is applied it 
is unique in the amount of energy it can make 
available. It has already been demonstrated 
as a large scale producer of electiicity. In fast 
reactors uranium can provide for electricity 
needs for centuries to come and without 
absorbing total resources significantly different 
from those used now in supporting the cheap 
abundant energy of prosperous societies. 

In the case of the UK, adoption of fast 
reactors would transform the waste uranium 
we already possess and which is unsuitable 
for any other purpose into the equivalent of 
at least 20 000 million tonnes of coal. With a 
steady build up of nuclear power for electricity 
production phasing in fast reactors in the 
1990s we can meet our future electricity needs 
at any ci edible rate of growth v/ith only a 
modest import of uranium in the early years. 
Thereafter we should be independent of any 
overseas fuel for electricity generation and be 
free to direct our fossil fuels to the energy uses 
for which they are uniquely suitable — particu- 
larly transport and chemical feedstocks for 
which future supply problems will be most 
difficult. The fast reactor is therefore potenti- 
ally of more significance to the energy inde- 
pendence and future economic benefit of the 
UK than North Sea oil. While other energy 
options can no doubt alleviate the situation 
and should be pursued, no other offers such 
promise, particularly on the likely timescale 
of needs and with such a low demand for 

Over the past 25 years we have continued 
with a progressive demonstration of all the 
technologies needed to establish fast reactors 
as a realistic large scale energy option. We 
now have a firmly established position, 
confirmed by the operation of the Prototype 
Fast Reactor power station at Dounreay over 
the last three years and supported by com- 
parable work in several other countries with 

whom we have effective contacts, as well as by 
long experience of our commercial thermal re- 
actors which share many common problems. 
The large steps in engineering and technology 
were taken in progressing from the experi- 
mental fast reactor DFR, to the Prototype 
Fast Reactor PFR. Only much smaller 
technical steps are now needed to progress to 
a final full-scale plant and there is high con- 
fidence that such plants would prove safe and 
reliable in operation. Experience indicates 
that it will be possible to meet the high safety 
standards demanded for licensing the fast 
reactors and their associated fuel plants. 
Nevertheless, it is accepted that for fast 
reactors to be regarded as a secure energy 
option on which reliance could be placed, a 
final stage of demonstration of a full size 
power station, its fuel cycle and waste hand- 
ling plants will be required. This will provide 
the technical information and confidence 
required by the reactor and fuel suppliers to 
be willing and able to embark on a programme 
under normal commercial conditions. It will 
confirm to the Generating Boards that such 
plants will meet their operational requirements 
reliably and economically, and provide the 
greater depth of information required by 
licensing authorities before considering 
authorising large scale programmes. An 
essential feature will be the convincing 
demonstration to the general public that such 
plants are in all ways acceptable. Such a 
Demonstration Project has more significance 
than just another large power station and 
special arrangements might well be required 
to manage and finance the project. 

For these reasons it is considered that work 
should now be put in hand to prepare a full 
proposal for such a Demonstration Project 
and subject this to full evaluation of its 
technical, economic, safety and wider aspects 
in relation to energy policy, a process overall 
likely to take 2-3 years. Subject to the assess- 
ment being favourable, construction could 
start in the early 1980s and operating experi- 
ence arise by 1990 when decisions will be 
required about the future programme. This 
would allow piogressive ordering to start 
before the end of the century and provide a 
firm source of energy should, as seems 
possible, future supplies of uranium and 
fossil fuels prove difficult in the lifetime of 
power plants required at that time. Mainten- 
ance of the steady progress of the present 
programme appears to be adequate, but 
unnecessary delay in proceeding could pro- 
duce real risks of energy supply problems 
early next century. We now have a unique 
national asset in the existence of skilled teams 


in NPC, the AEA and manufacturing industry 
who have already constructed two fast 
reactor projects and who are now ready to 
embark on the final demonstration phase. 
The teams have now either to be used or 
inevitably their skills will be dispersed and 
this is an important practical factor in deciding 
fast reactor timescales. 

The fuel cycle for fast reactors, though it 
has much in common with the work on 
thermal reactors and plutonium handling 
which has been undertaken safely for 30 
years, raises certain new problems which are 
being covered in the demonstration pro- 
gramme. Fast reactors represent a unique way 
of maximising the value of the by-product 
plutonium inevitably arising in thermal 
reactors and of consuming it usefully. Fast 
reactors themselves will be net producers of 
plutonium only to the extent that it is required 
to initiate new fast reactors to meet expanding 
demands for electricity. The fuel cycle 
development and demonstration programme 
includes several alternatives — co-location of 
reactor and fuel process plants with low 
effluent discharges and relatively small unit 
sizes to match credible sizes for power station 
sites — as well as safe and secure methods for 
transport of new and irradiated fuel between 
separate sites if lequired. Within these alterna- 

tives it will be possible to select arrangements 
for any specific power station that are accept- 
able for its particular environment. 

These developments have been linked to 
the position in the UK. Exports to other less 
stable countries raise new issues of security 
and non-proliferation which are now being 
studied. However, on energy grounds fast 
reactors are suitable for large scale base load 
production of electricity from large single 
units of over 1 000 MW capacity and prefer- 
ably grouped in larger complexes. These are 
appropriate to the larger industrialised states 
and provide the earliest and largest impact 
in reducing world demand for uranium and 
fossil fuels for electricity generation. It is hard 
to see any need on realistic energy or econo- 
mic grounds for fast reactors in less developed 
countries for at least 40-50 years. For the 
foreseeable future it would seem entirely 
reasonable for such plants not to be exported 
to these regions unless complete technical or 
other assurances are obtained that security 
or non-proliferation issues are not com- 
promised — a procedure entirely consistent 
with attitudes on other potentially dangerous 
products. This policy would avoid any need to 
delay the introduction of the fast reactor in this 
country or materially reduce its value as a 
world energy resource. 

37-18" O - 79 - 22 


(by Major Wayne L. Morawitz) 

"peaceful nuclear explosive" in May 
1974 was held by some to be a non- 
event, while others saw it as epoch-mak- 
ing. For the first time a country other 
than one of the five permanent members 
of the United Nations Security Council 
had demonstrated a nuclear explosives 
capability. 1 While no additional mem- 
bers have publicly joined the nuclear 
weapons club since that initial jumping 
of the firebreak, world events give little 
encouragement to hopes that member- 
ship will be held to six. Informed sources 
have charged that Israel has already con- 
structed six to ten atomic weapons;* an 
Argentine legislator recently caJled for 
the construction of a nuclear weapon as 
a means of gaining prestige for Argen- 
tina; 3 and the worlds energy crisis will 
make it progressively easier for countries 
to indulge in nuclear weaponry as nu- 
clear power station produce more and 

more reactor by-products that can be 
processed into weapons-grade fuel. 

Nations might wizn to construct nu- 
clear weapons for any number of specific 
reasons, but these reasons can be gener- 
alized into a few broad categories: to in- 
crease military power to counter an 
immediate military threat; as an extra 
measure of insurance against the capa- 
ciousness of an unpredictable future, 
such as situations in which a more power- 
ful nation would attempt coercion; or to 
display the capability to the world solely 
for its prestige value in order to increase 
the country's status in subjects not neces- 
sarily related to military matters. 

Lincoln Bloomfield has estimated that 
the comtruction of new nuclear power 
stations will give present nonnuclear 
weapons countries a potential by the 
early 1980s to make 50 atomic bombs 
per week. 4 The prospects of such a wide- 
spread proliferation of nuclear weapons 

Morawitz, Wayne L. Nuclear Proliferation and U.S. 
Security. In Air University Review , vol. 28, 
Jan. -Feb. 1977, pp. 19-28. Copyright material 
reprinted from Air University Review , Vol. XXIX, 
No. 2, Jan. -Feb. 1977 with permission of copy- 
right holder. 


have resulted in an extensive body of lit- 
erature concerned with general disrup- 
tion in the world order and dangers to 
world peace resulting from such prolifer- 
ation. 5 Herman Kahn has estimated that 
5? small nations could have impressive 
nuclear arsenals by the year 2000 and 
predicts that under such conditions the 
international system would be in a virtu- 
al state of anarchy.* 

Although such din* predictions may 
eventually prove true, they also may- 
have obscured the need to give more at- 
tention to what can be expected in the 
immediate future: the future toward 
which we must develop plans, against 
which we must allocate resources, and in 
which we must deploy weapon systems. 
While it may be theoretically possible for 
50 more nations to have constructed 
atomic bombs within the next 25 years, 
our immediate concern must be what 
can be expected to take place over the 
next few years. Only in a more restricted 
time frame can useful predictions be 
made and practical measures taken to 
counter perceived threats. Therefore, 
ten years into the future will be the far 
horizon of this study. Any attempt to 
forecast beyond that is too speculative to 
be useful when examining specific coun- 
tries' capabilities. The discussion will be 
further restricted by limiting it to the 
direct military threat of nuclear prolifer- 
ation to the security and vital interests of 
the United States during that period. 

The nuclear powers have 
shown an understandable reluctance to 
share control or give away their atomic 
weapons. With the exceptions of the 
United States toward Britain and Russia 
toward China prior to 1961, the nuclear 
powers have shown a similar reserve in 
sharing the secrets of weapons develop- 

ment. Fortunately for the country that 
wants to build an atomic device, how- 
ever, there are very few secrets standing 
in the way. In fact a newspaper article 
has told of a young college student who 
designed an atomic bomb, using techni- 
cal data widely available in unclassified 
sources. 7 

The theory is simple: bring together 
enough of any one of several fissionable 
materials to form a critical mass. If this 
material is brought together quickly 
enough, the energy* released by the spon- 
taneous chain-reaction splitting of the 
atoms of the substance will result in ah 
explosion. For instance, a mass of 
plutonium can be constructed just be^w 
its critical mass, which is from four to 
seven kilograms, 8 depending on the 
purity of the material, and an additional 
amount of plutonium can then be fired, 
like a bullet, into the first. If the total 
mass is greater than the critical mass, and 
if the "bullet" is fast enough, an explo- 
sion will result from the sudden release 
of energy involved in the chain-reaction 
fission. While thr particular technique 
has not proved very efficient, it illustrates 
the basic requirements for producing a 
nuclear explosion. 

Whereas the theory is well known, in 
practice several problems arise. The first 
is getting the fissionable material. Since 
two of the materials that can be used are 
isotopes of uranium, Uj 3 a and U a3 5. it is 
possible to make atomic bombs out of 
uranium. Naturally occurring uranium, 
however, has very little of the fissionable 
isotopes.* For instance, only 0.71 per- 
cent of natural uranium is Ujas" Natural 
uranium can be enriched; through physi- 
cal separation techniques, the percent- 
age of fissionable isotopes can be 

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increased. It is possible to enrich urani- 
um until it is of weapons-grade quality, 
but this is, at present, a very expensive 

Another fissionable isotope is the 
plutonium isotope Pu«9. This isotope is a 
by-product of virtually every nuclear 
reactor now in operation. Thus, while 
reactors may be designated in a variety 
of ways, such as "military" or "power" 
reactors, even the peaceful electrical 
power station reactors produce plutoni- 
um that can t. extracted from other 
waste products and transformed into 
bombs. This method is not inexpensive 
either; but it is less expensive than en- 
riching uranium to a weapons-grade 
quality, and the growing number of nu- 
clear power reactors in the world is in- 
creasing the available supply of 
plutonium from which nuclear weapons 
can be made. 

If a country embarks on a program to 
deploy a nuclear weapon system, the first 
obstacle to be overcome is the research 
that would be required to develop the 
final configuration as well as a delivery 
system for the weapons. Another signifi- 
cant factor, of course, is cost. 

William Van Cleave and Leonard Bea- 
ton have attempted to place a cost on 
programs necessary to develop a nuclear 
weapons capability. Beaton estimated in 
1966 that a $450 million investment over 
a ten-year period could support a mini- 
mal nuclear force of five bombs a year. 
This sum included t K e costs of modifying 
its existing commercial or military ai-- 
craft, for delivering nuclear bombs. n»a 
estimates included $100 million for refin- 
ing uranium to fuel grade, a reactor, and 
a plutonium separation plant, rie allot- 
ted another <>75 million for constructing 
and instrumenting a test range. Twenty 
million dollars per year went for produc- 
tion costs for the bombs after a $25 mil- 

lion research and development m&D) 
effort to develop the first one. He es- 
timated $5 million per year to adapt and 
maintain a rudimentary, nonspecialized 
delivery system. 10 His estimate for a 
modest program of more sophisticated 
smaller bombs and a specialized delivery 
system was between $230 and $310 mil- 
lion per year over a ten-year period. Fi- 
nally, Beaton also analyzed the well 
documented British and French pro- 
grams to establish the cost of a small 
force of superpower quality. He found 
that the British program cost $300 mil- 
lion per year and the French $336 mil- 
lion per year over a twenty-year 
period. 1 1 These estimates are for pro- 
grams starting from scratch. Further, the 
annual costs are averages for the respec- 
tive ten- and twenty-year totals, but a 
few of the yearly figures are very much 
higher than the average while others are 

Nearly a decade later, in 1974, Van 
Cleave noted that "non-electrical gene- 
rating reactors capable of producing 
enough plutonium for a half dozen to a 
couple of dozen bombs per year are 
available on the open market for prices 
ranging from about $15 million to $75 
million, perhaps including the initial fuel 
loading." 12 He estimated the cost of a 
fuel fabrication plant at $3 million and 
pointed cit that India's plutonium sepa- 
ration plant cost $7 million. He put the 
cost of a weapens laboratory at $3 mil- 
lion. 13 

Many countries have decided to bjild 
nuclear reactors for power production. If 
they later decide to use the plutonium 
wjste products for weapons, additional 
funding will be required only for separa- 
tion plants, weapons laboratories, initial 
r&d costs, and delivery systems. A rudi- 
mentary system, ass»\T»ing the reactor is 
alread> available, should be on the order 


of $350 to $400 million over a ten-year 
period. The percentage of the costs as- 
sociated with offshoots of peaceful nu- 
clear technology can be expected 10 
account for less of the total costs as the 
military programs get more ambitious. 
Thus, even discounting the costs of nu- 
clear power reactors, the total costs of a 
modest or a superpower-quality force 
would be approximately S3 billion or $6 
billion respectively, over ten- and 
twenty-year periods. 

As Beaton pointed out, both Britain 
and France spent approximately $6 bil- 
lion over a twenty-year pc.iod to reach 
the level of sophistication that he termed 
"superpower quality." Since there are no 
nations other than the existing five major 
powers presently committed to a goal of 
building a superpower-quality force, it is 
highly unlikely, and probably impossible, 
that any present nonnuclear weapons 
country could, under any set of circum- 
stances, develop a force of that quality 
within the next decade. The possibility 
that even one could do it is so remote 
that the question will be pursued no fur- 
ther; therefore, only the possibilities of 
minimal rudimentary or modest nuclear 
programs will be considered. 

Thf probability of a specific 
country's embarking on a nuclear weap- 
ons program is dependent on several fac- 
tors, the most important being whether 
it can afford such a program. The sac- 
rifices that a country will undergo to sup- 
port a program are, in turn, dependent 
upon its motivation for desiring nuclear 
weapons. A very poor country may 
desire nuclear weapons but not be able 
to afford them, while a country that 
cculd easily afford them may have no 
need. Political and geographic lactors 
could drive one country to expend a 

large amount of its gross national prod- 
uct (CNP» on developing nuclear weapons; 
another country with the same economic 
capability and c\p might opt for a very 
small conventional military force. 

The Nuclear Proliferation Treaty <\m 
is a useful analytic tool that gives a rough 
indication of which countries do not wish 
to pursue a nuclear weapons program 
and those that might » ish to do so. The 
very act of signing and ratifying the npt 
is strong indication ^f an intent not to 
build a nuclear force. While signing and 
ratifying the npt could be a subterfuge, 
the difficulty of keeping such a program 
secret would make sucn deviousness im- 
practical. It is also possible that a nation 
may have signed the \pt with every in- 
tention of abiding by it, yet a future 
change of government, widespread pro- 
liferation, or some other unforeseen 
event could cause that country to renege 
on the agreement. Nevertheless, since 
there is no logical way to take such ran- 
dom events into consideration, it will be 
assumed that a signature on the tTeaty 
plus its ratification removes that country 
from contention for nuclear weapons 
status in the near future. Even so, this 
still leaves the rather large number of 61 
nations that have not signed the docu- 
ment or ratified it. 14 

Walter Hahn has identified 26 of these 
as countries that he considers potential 
nuclear weapons candidates. The 25— in 
addition to India, which has already 
demonstrated the capability — are listed 
in Table l. 14 These are the countries that 
either have significant natural uranium 
deposits or own, or soon will own, opera- 
tional nuclear reactors that could pro- 
vide adequate amounts of fissionable 
uranium or plutonium for bombs if 
enough money and national commit- 
ment were to be applied. 

Of the several general reasons for a 



%of GNP 

% Increase for 

%tncreese for 


tor defense 

HHnvmjvvt proQfwt 

modeat program 




















16 5 










140 6 


















7 4 



























10 2 

North Korea 














42 8 

Saudi Arabia 





South Africa 




22.5 , 

South Korea 

























West Germjny 


3 6 



Tabic I. Defame Butifcts *nd Sudcar Force proer urns' 

country to initiate a nuclear weapons 
program, the need to counter an im- 
mediate threat may be identifiably re- 
lated to existing defense programs. If a